The Egyptian Theater in Dekalb IL welcomed the legendary singer on February 3rd, 2023 by Jim Snyder
Mavis Staples is an American treasure, one of the true and great singers in gospel, r&b, and rock and roll who got her start singing in her family’s band, the Staple Singers. The only surviving member of that band today, she came to wow audiences in northern Illinois on a cold night in February.
The eighty three year old showed no signs of slowing down as she dazzled the audience with her stunning vocals. She brought a six piece band with two backing vocalists, guitar, bass and drums, all led with perfection by the inimitable Mavis Staples.
The venue is a vintage movie theater called the Egyptian theater that has been completely remodeled and was finished in 2021, housing roughly one thousand audience members. It was pretty full, nearing capacity it seemed. The remodel was done very well, with the room retaining the classic early twentieth century look, complete with balconies and classic appointments. There is a huge wide open stage that afforded plenty of space and to showcase the talents of these players.
On first was the Northern Illinois University Concert Choir and Northern Illinois University Black Choir who came out first and performed for about thirty minutes. The choir was great and performed a fairly classic gospel program for an enthusiastic audience with an eye popping amount of people on stage, what seemed like forty performers!
The Mavis Staples portion of the show ran just over an hour, perhaps seventy or seventy five minutes. Staples opened with the Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth”. Most of the material was either music from the immense catalog of the Staple Singers, or Mavis’ own material. Midway through the show they did the Talking Heads classic “Slippery People.”
Big hits from “Respect Yourself” to the show closer “I’ll Take You There” really showcased the singular voice of Mavis Staples. The audience called out over and over “We Love You Mavis!” and got her response of “I Love You More!” In addition to an amazing musical selection, the uplifting nature of the civil rights messages of this music came through loud and clear, without being judgmental or preachy.
All in all, this was an amazing show. If you have a chance, go out and see this classic American singer while you can.
For What It’s Worth (Buffalo Springfield)
I’m Just Another Soldier
Handwriting on the Wall (The Staple Singers)
Who Told You That
Can You Get to That (Funkadelic cover)
City in the Sky
Slippery People (Talking Heads)
Respect Yourself (The Staple Singers)
We’ve Got to Get Together
You Are Not Alone
Heavy Makes You Happy
Let’s Do It Again (The Staple Singers)
I’ll Take You There (The Staple Singers)
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