Directed by Jessica Edwards, Mavis! is the first documentary on gospel/soul music legend and civil rights icon Mavis Staples and her family group, The Staple Singers. From the delta-inflected gospel sound she helped pioneer in the 1950s, to the freedom songs of the civil rights era marching beside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to massive hits such as I’ll Take You There in the soul-filled Stax era, to funked-up collaborations with Prince and her recent Grammy-winning work with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples is one of the most influential and enduring vocalists of our time and a true American icon. She has stayed true to her roots, kept her family close, and inspired millions along the way.
Featuring powerful live performances, rare archival footage, and conversations with friends and contemporaries including Bob Dylan, Prince, Bonnie Raitt, Levon Helm, Jeff Tweedy, Chuck D, Sharon Jones and more, Mavis! reveals the struggles, successes and intimate stories of her journey. Through a 60-year career crossing music genres and societal shifts, Mavis has managed to transform herself as she goes, yet never alter. She occupies a singular place in American music: a soldier of love and peace whose fight continues. At 75, she is making the most vital music of her career, reaching a new generation of fans. Her message of love and equality is needed now more than ever.
“A spirited and captivating bio-doc that richly deserves the exclamation point in its title. Jessica Edwards has created a cinematic portrait quite capable of converting the uninitiated into acolytes, and elevating casual interest to flood-tide levels of respect and affection.” (Joe Leydon, Variety)