Mavis Staples | A Ray of Light

Written by Brooke Filsinger

Mavis Staples happy music

“I respected and loved Aretha Franklin, and still do. But she wasn’t Mavis Staples.”

That’s a pretty bold statement. And when it comes from Al Bell, co-owner of the famous Stax Records, it’s also a statement that can’t just be dismissed lightly.

So who is this ‘Mavis’ that so commands Bell’s respect?

She has worn many labels — gospel singer, civil rights activist, self-funded artist, Bob Dylan’s ‘lost love’ — but she will no doubt be remembered as the breath-taking centre-piece of The Staple Singers, one of America’s greatest family bands, and one of the greatest voices of the 20th century.

Listen along with a special Spotify Playlist right here.

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The Difference between Traditional Blues …and everything else

Written by Jae Wilson

A story told in YouTube videos

In my personal journey in music discovery, I’ve found it difficult to differentiate what some call ‘blues adjacent’ versus ‘traditional blues’. Not just because of differences in opinion about what falls under the umbrella of ‘traditional blues’, but also because modern musicians don’t exist in a vacuum!

Despite opinions by (let’s say) fairly vocal figures in our dance community on what traditional blues is-or-is-not, there is, in fact, a category of music for which awards are given every year with that exact title:

Bobby Rush GRAMMY Winner

Watch: Bobby Rush Wins Best Traditional Blues Album GRAMMY
(opens new window)

Hopefully, this isn’t news, but if you want to know what the ‘real experts’ think, check out who won awards over the last few decades. Blues is alive and well and did not end with the death of <insert an opinionated DJ’s favourite artist here>.

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UK Blues Musicians | Meet the Local Talent

Written by Greg Dyke

I’ve been in the UK for almost a year now and I’ve been blown away by the live music at blues dance events!

Not just the musicians blues dancers are familiar with from having often seen them, such as Dan Nash or The Blueswater, but many less well-known artists, some of whom have only recently started playing for dancers.

I wanted to get to know them a bit better and share them with you, so I chose five to answer three short questions:

  1. Why do you play blues music?
  2. How do you classify the kinds of blues music you play?
  3. What could dancers do to improve your experience of playing for them?

I hope you enjoy their answers as much as I did!

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