*The national treasure that is Mavis Staples sat down with us in the summer of 1993 to talk about her new album “The Voice.” Little did we know that in addition to the honor of just being in her presence, she would also bless us with roughly 45 minutes of anecdotes from her six years working with Prince.
Let’s just say … you haven’t heard anybody talk about Prince until you’ve heard Mavis Staples talk about Prince. “The Voice” was her second album produced by “this child,” as she affectionally referred to him. Their first collaboration, 1989’s “Time Waits for No One,” came after Prince’s manager cold-called the Staple Singers standout two years prior offering a record deal with Paisley Park Records.
Little did Prince know that before the fateful phone call, Mavis had spent much of the 80s reluctantly looking for a solo deal, because labels were no longer interested in her family. After releasing three previous side solo albums during the Staple Singers years, just one small label had shown interest in putting out her fourth. She was about to sign with them one day when, the night before, she got the call from Prince’s camp. Mavis’ mother Oceola – a longtime Prince fan – would later call Prince her daughter’s “angel.”
Mavis goes on to gush over working with Prince on both “Time Waits for No One” and “The Voice,” She explains having to write letters to Prince in lieu of having conversations because he was too shy to speak to her. She talks about the respectful hi-jinx between Prince and Pops Staples. She talks about Oceola’s favorite Prince songs. She talks about playing Tevin Campbell’s mom in Prince’s film “Graffiti Bridge.” She talks about trying to keep up with Prince’s crazy schedule and wee-morning afterparty gigs.
And when she wasn’t talking about Prince, she got candid about being cheated out of royalties by Stax and Vee-Jay records. She mocked singers who can’t sing live. She gave props to “the hip hoppers” Ice Cube, Salt N Pepa and Big Daddy Kane for sampling her music.
When Mavis spoke about how her profession allowed her to touch audiences around the world, that rich, soulful voice of hers just filled with bliss.
So, let’s do it again. Episode 17 of our podcast Radioscope Raw takes us back with Mavis Staples to the summer of 1993, for one of Radioscope’s most memorable interviews ever.