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Pervis Staples (1935–2021), co-founder of the Staple Singers

by Linnea Crowther

Pervis Staples was a co-founder of the legendary gospel and R&B group the Staple Singers, along with his father and sisters.

Singing with his family

The Staple Singers began performing in churches around Chicago in the early 1950s, when Staples and his sisters were still in their teens. They soon began recording their music and had early success with gospel songs including “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” and “Uncloudy Day,” which Bob Dylan has cited as an influence on his career. It was Staples who urged his father and sisters to begin recording more secular and protest music as well as gospel, and he occasionally sang lead vocals, as on “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.” The Staple Singers found crossover success with hit singles in the early 1970s including “I’ll Take You There,” “Let’s Do it Again,” and “Respect Yourself,” though Staples was no longer singing with the group at the time of their release, having left in 1968. Staples was also a U.S. Army veteran, singing with the U.S. Army Choral Group while he served. Along with his family, Staples was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Tributes to Pervis Staples

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Full obituary: Chicago Sun-Times


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