Kennedy Center to Honor Mavis Staples

By Sameer Rao Jun 24, 2016

The Washington, D.C.-based Kennedy Center announced soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples as one of its 2016 honorees yesterday (June 23). 

According to The Washington Post, Staples joins actor Al Pacino, singer James Taylor, Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich and rock band the Eagles as recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors.  

Staples rose to fame in the ’60s and ’70s as a member of her family ensemble The Staple Singers. Led by her father, Roebuck "Pops" Staples, the group wrote iconic songs inspired by and central to the Civil Rights Movement. "Freedom’s Highway" took inspiration from the march from Selma to Montgomery, while "Why? (Am I Treated So Bad)" commemorated the Little Rock Nine. Staples also had a prolific solo career, and her most recent release was this year’s "Livin’ on a High Note." 

"Oh, my God, if I could have turned a flip I would have done it," she told the Post in reaction to the announcement. She and Taylor performed The Beatles’ "Let It Be" to honor Paul McCartney at the 2012 ceremony. 

The 2016 Kennedy Center Honors ceremony airs December 27 on CBS. Listen to some of Staples’ songs below. 

(H/t Allmusic