Mavis Staples delivered a brash, bossy performance of “Take Us Back,” the opening track from her new album, Livin’ On a High Note, on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Monday.
The legendary soul singer cruised through the funky, mid-tempo cut (co-written with Benjamin Booker), an appreciation of the friends and family who push her to keep making music. By the end of the performance, Staples was embracing the full rasp of her voice as she powered through a final call-and-response of “Help me!” with her back-up singers.
Staples also sat down for an interview with Colbert in which she discussed opening for Martin Luther King, Jr. with the Staple Singers, the first songs she learned to sing (the hymn, “Unclouded Day” with her family; “Turkey is a Silly Bird” on her own) and making the transition from gospel to soul music. Staples also spoke about Livin’ On a High Note, which features a track, “Tomorrow,” co-written with Late Show bandleader Jon Batiste.
“He didn’t give me no trouble at all,” Staples reported to Colbert. “He told me, ‘Mavis, however you want to sing it, sing it.’ And he wrote a beautiful song.” To prove it, she launched into the song’s infectious chorus, while Batiste quickly joined in on piano.