Sunday, May 16, 2021

Mavis Staples, Hank Aaron Specials Close Out Black History Month (Clips)

Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples

*There’s an extra day of Black History Month this year and two cable channels are stepping up tonight to send it out on a “high note.”

At 9 p.m., HBO serves up “Mavis!,” a 90 minute documentary about the legendary Mavis Staples – both as a solo artist and with her family group, The Staple Singers.

The film from director Jessica Edwards features live performances, rare archival footage and interviews with such musical friends and collaborators as Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, late Band singer/drummer Levon Helm, Public Enemy’s Chuck D, Prince and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, who produced two of Mavis’ most recent albums — 2010’s “You Are Not Alone” and 2013’s “One True Vine.”

Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples

Staples new studio album, “Livin’ on a High Note,” was released on Feb. 19. It was produced by M. Ward of the indie-pop duo She and Him, and features songs written for Mavis by such artists as Ben Harper, Aloe Blacc, Nick Cave, Neko Case, Tune-Yards and Ward.

Staples will embark on a mini-tour this Friday (March 4) in Dallas.

Watch a trailer for “Mavis!” below:

Airing one hour before “Mavis!” on the Smithsonian Channel is “Major League Legends: Hank Aaron,” part of a four part series focusing on a different baseball giant each week, narrated by Martin Sheen.

 Photo: Getty Images/Courtesy of Smithsonian Channel - Smithsonian_MajorLeagueLegends-HankAaron-83413469
Major League Legends: Hank Aaron

Aaron’s special features newly-captured interviews with “The Hammer” himself, as he discusses his childhood in Mobile, Alabama and the challenges he faced growing up during Jim Crow. The bigotry and racism he faced throughout his baseball career is also documented, particularly when he sought to unseat Babe Ruth as the all-time home run king.

Watch a clip of Aaron discussing the racial animus surrounding his historic 715th home run below:

“Major League Legends: Hank Aaron” airs at 8 p.m. on the Smithsonian Channel. “Mavis!” airs at 9 p.m. on HBO, Feb. 29.

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