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Yvonne Staples of The Staple Singers Dies at 80

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Singer Yvonne Staples poses for a portrait at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on March 4, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
Singer Yvonne Staples poses for a portrait at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on March 4, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

*Yvonne Staples, who rose to fame alongside her family members in the legendary soul group Staple Singers, died Tuesday in her Chicago home, the Sun-Times reported. She was 80.

Bill Carpenter, a family friend, confirmed Staples’s death to The New York Times, citing the cause as colon cancer.

Together with her sisters Mavis and Cleotha and their father, Roebuck “Pops” Staples, on guitar, the Staple Singers were a force in American gospel, R&B and soul and left their distinct footprint in the genres of rock, pop and folk as well.

The Staple Singers, from left, Pops Staples, Cleotha Staples, Yvonne Staples and Mavis Staples, perform on a TV show in 1970 in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Sherry Rayn Barnett
The Staple Singers, from left, Pops Staples, Cleotha Staples, Yvonne Staples and Mavis Staples, perform on a TV show in 1970 in Manhattan. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Sherry Rayn Barnett

The Staple Singers were formed in 1948 with Pops and his children Cleotha, Pervis and Mavis. After Pervis left to serve in the military in 1971, Yvonne stepped in to fill his place.

The family began singing in churches at the start of their career. The Staples were signed to multiple record labels including Epic and Stax Records. The group landed their first hit under Stax with “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom)” in 1971. In the following year, the group’s most recognized song “I’ll Take You There” topped the Billboard R&B and Billboard Hot 100 charts. Another hit titled “Respect Yourself” peaked at the second and 12th spot on the Billboard R&B and Billboard Hot 100 charts respectively. “Let’s Do It Again,” released in 1975, also became a pop hit in the U.S.

They appeared in the documentaries Wattstax (1972) and The Last Waltz (1978), and are best known for the hits “I’ll Take You There” and “Let’s Do It Again,” which both topped the Billboard Hot 100.

The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, with all the group members present at the ceremony to accept the honor. The Staple Singers were also presented with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, following “Pops” Staples death in 2000. Cleotha Staples died in 2013.

Yvonne Staples is survived by her brother and sister, Pervis and Mavis, the last living members of the group.

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