A member of one of the most influential and best selling gospel and soul group has passed on.
Cleotha Staples, who was both the eldest sister and member of the Staple Singers, died at the age of 78, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Although sister Mavis and father Roebuck “Pops” were primarily the group’s leads, Cleotha was known for her smooth and velvety voice, that was not only credited with influencing Pops Staples’ guitar playing, but also the Staple Singers sound, which in turn would set them apart from other groups in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Staple Singers were formed in the late 1940’s, as an acoustic gospel-folk style group. But in the late 1960s, they became unlikely hit makers for the Stax label, with a string of Top 40 hits including “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)”, “Respect Yourself”, and the signature chart-topper “I’ll Take You There”. They were also active in the civil rights movement, and have performed at events hosted by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And along with soul legends such as Curtis Mayfield, they have also collaborated with a few rock artists including Stephen Stills and the Band.
Cleotha Staples was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with her family in 1999.