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Mavis Staples, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2014

Mavis Staples performs at the 2014 Newport Folk Festival.
Adam Kissick for NPR
Mavis Staples performs at the 2014 Newport Folk Festival.

Newport Folk Festival programmers like to close their lineups on a note of uplift; to send fans to the exits feeling elated and moved. On that front, they couldn't have done much better than the great Mavis Staples, whose titanic career has spanned more than 60 years. From her time in the best-selling gospel family band The Staple Singers through her role in the civil rights movement, she's been a face of change and a voice behind some of the most powerful songs in modern history.

In recent years, Staples has settled into yet another successful act of her career, this time as a decorated solo artist. Her last two albums, You Are Not Alone and last year's One True Vine, were both produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, who preceded her on stage at Newport (and joined her on stage, with his son Spencer). Tweedy plays almost every instrument on One True Vine, and he wrote several of its songs. But Staples owns its spotlight.

Per Newport tradition, her headlining set featured plenty of special guests, and closed with a group singalong — right before she was presented with a birthday cake. Hear Mavis Staples perform as part of the 2014 Newport Folk Festival, recorded live on Sunday, July 27 in Newport, R.I.

Set List

  • "Come Go With Me"
  • "For What It's Worth"
  • "Slippery People" (Feat. Lucius)
  • "I Like The Things About Me"
  • "Respect Yourself"
  • "You Are Not Alone" (Feat. Jeff Tweedy and Spencer Tweedy)
  • "Freedom Highway"
  • "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" (Feat. Norah Jones and Trampled By Turtles)
  • "The Weight" (Feat. Norah Jones and Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes)
  • "Keep Your Eyes On The Prize"
  • "Do It Again" (Feat. Spooner Oldham)
  • "I'll Take You There"
  • "We Shall Overcome" (Closing Hootenanny)
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    Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)