Our Top 10 Staple Singers Songs list looks at famous musical family group in the tradition of the Pointer Sisters, The Jackson Five and so many other soul & r&b groups that were formed out of family members in the 1960s and 70s. The group combined gospel, soul and r&b music. They were known for singing inspirational music with a soul and r&b beat. Roebuck “Pops” Staples started the group. He formed it with his children Cleotha, Pervis and Mavis. Yvonne replaced Pervis once he was drafted. They signed with gospel and folk labels in the beginning of their career. They signed with Epic Records in 1965. They recorded the single “Uncloudy Day” in 1965. It was one Bob Dylan’s favorite songs. They recorded singles and albums with Epic Records as well as other labels until Stax Records signed them. The group found greater success once they signed with Stax Records.
Once the Staple Sisters signed with Stax, they changed their style of music. They started to sing songs with a message that appealed to r&b fans. In 1968, they released their first album Soul Folk in Action. It features the singles “The Weight, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay and “We’ve Got To Get Ourselves Together.” They released their second album We’ll Get Over in 1969. The album features the singles “When Do I Get Paid,” “Every Day People” and “Games People Play.”
The Staple Singers released their third album Staple Swingers in 1971. The album charted at number nine on the r&b charts. The album features the singles “You’ve Got to Earn it” and “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Nah Boom Boom). They released Be Altitude: Respect Yourself in 1972. It includes the hit singles “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself.” The Staple Singers released Be What You Are in 1973. The album reached number 13 on the r&b charts. The title track didn’t do that well on the charts. “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)” and “Touch A Hand, Make A Friend” were top 10 singles. The album also includes the single “Grandma’s Hand.”
The Staple Singers released City in the Sky in 1974. This is the last album they recorded with Stax Records. The album features the singles “Back Road Into Town.” “Washington We’re Watching You” and “Who Made The Man.” They signed with Curtom Records. This was Curtis Mayfield’s record label. They released the successful funk and soul album Let’s Do It Again in 1975. It features the singles “Let’s Do It Again” and “New Orleans.”
The Staple Singers eventually group signed with Warner Brothers. Even though they weren’t signed to Mayfield’s label anymore, they continued to work with him. They released Pass It On in 1976. The album features the single “Sweeter Than The Sweet.” They released Family Tree in 1977. The album peaked at number 58 on the charts. The album features the singles “Family Tree,” “I Honestly Love You” and “Color Me Higher.
The Staple Singers released the album Unlock Your Mind in 1978. The album peaked at number 34 on the charts. This is their last album with Warner Brothers. It features the singles “God Can,” “Don’t Burn Me,” “Leave It All Up To Love” and “Chica Boom.” They released Turning Point in 1984. The album reached number 34 on the r&b charts. The album features the singles “H.A.T.E. (Don’t Live Here Anymore),” “Slippery People” and “This Is Our Night.”
The Staple Singers were an amazing gospel and r&b group. There weren’t too many family oriented groups that sing the type of music that they sing. They manage to inspire people with their uplifting lyrics. They managed to sustain a lengthy career in gospel music. This Top 10 Staple Singers Songs list will feature their hit singles.
# 10 – This World
The first song on our Top 10 Staple Singers Songs list is the comforting “This World” from the Be Altitude: Respect Yourself album. This up-tempo song has an r&b and gospel sound. It also has a hint of disco music. This uplifting song is letting the listener know about what’s going on in the world today. This powerful and uplifting song will make you feel good about what’s going on in the world. It let’s you know that there is help in the world and what we can do to make it better. The song was written a long time ago, but it still resonates today. The r&b/disco elements of the music give this gospel song a secular sound. The music is upbeat and is guaranteed to have you bop your head. There aren’t that many gospel songs that will have you dancing in your seat. The guitar is spectacular and the bass is thumping. Mavis’ alto voice sounds soulful and bluesy. It’s very easy to tell that she has gospel roots.
# 9 – Oh La De Da
The next song on our Top 10 Staple Singers Songs list is the healing “Oh La De Da” from the City in the Sky album. This up-tempo song has an r&b, soul and gospel sound. This inspiring song has a good message. It’s about doing what you feel like doing if you’re in the mood to do it. This feel-good song has crossover appeal because it can appeal to different audiences. You don’t have to be a gospel fan to enjoy the song and be moved by the meaning behind it. The music is motivating and cathartic. You may find yourself in the spirit of the song. The upbeat organ and piano chords are on point. The bass line is show stopping. Mavis Staples’ vocals are excellent. She has a lot of grit in her voice. She takes you to church with the song with her soaring vocals. She sounds similar to Gladys Knight in this song.
# 8 – Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom Boom)
This emotional song is from the Staple Swingers album. This midtempo song has an r&b and soul sound. This moving song is about being happy regardless of what is being thrown in your way. This song has a positive message about being happy despite what you are going through. It gives you a chance to dance away your troubles while being inspired. The song is timeless because it can be relatable even today. The foot stomping music sounds similar to Motown music. The horn section is amazing. The percussion is a great complement to the horn section. The guitar solo steals the music. Mavis Staples’ vocals are through the roof. She belts throughout the song. She also has a growl in her voice that was perfect for the music. It made it sound soulful. The harmonies are impeccable.
# 7 – Touch A Hand, Make A Friend
This motivating song is from the Be What You Are album. This ballad has an r&b sound. This encouraging song is about taking a chance and making friends. This song is good for anyone who wants to make friends. This charismatic song is an eye-opener about trying to make friends in a world where there is a lot of tension and strife. This song is appropriate with the problems that are going on in the world today. The world needs to hear an uplifting song like this. It has a sentimental message about the way the world is. The music is soft and soothing. The orchestral swell is fitting for the lyrics. This doesn’t sound like a typical gospel song. It sounds like r&b music with gospel lyrics. Mavis Staples’ vocals are soft and soothing at the start of the song. She belts towards the end of the song and the fadeout. The background vocals are just as good as the lead vocals. They all do an amazing job.
# 6 – If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)
This uplifting song is from the Staple Swingers album. This midtempo song has a soul sound. This optimistic song is about the world uniting with each other despite their racial, economic and social background. This song is about what the world should be like. It’s an interesting take on wanting everyone to love one another. This sounds similar to their other hit “I’ll Take Your There.” The guitar riffs are strong and funky. The horn arrangement is very powerful and drives the music. The drumbeat is mind blowing and complex. Mavis’ vocals are strong and gritty. Once again the woman is trying to bring you to church. She has so much passion in her voice as she sings about racial harmony. Her voice is breathtaking. The rest of the family does a great job supporting Mavis Staples in the background.
# 5 – Slippery People
The next song on our Top 10 Staple Singers Songs list is the touching “Slippery People” from the Turning Point album. This up-tempo song has an r&b and soul sound. This meaningful song is about shady people and stopping them from doing the wrong thing. This is a remake of the Talking Heads song. This song features Pops and Mavis Staples on lead vocals. Pops does a good job with his vocals. He was 70 at the time when he sang this track. Mavis Staples also does an exceptional job in her vocals. She sounds jazzy and bluesy in this song. This song was done in the 80’s, but it sounds as if it’s from the 70’s. It also doesn’t sound like their signature gospel sound. There are gospel elements, but it’s not their signature gospel sound. The music has a great arrangement. It sounds like something that could be heard in a club.
# 4 – City in the Sky
This jubilant song is from the album of the same name. This up-tempo song has a rock, country and soul sound. This fierce song is a tribute to Jerusalem. The music in this song is out of their comfort zone, but they manage to make it work. They creatively combine social lyrics with rock and country music. The music sounds similar to music Stevie Wonder used in his songs. It has a menacing groove that is guaranteed to hook you as soon as you hear it. The bass is hard and thumping. The guitar riffs are funky and fresh. Mavis’ vocals are soulful and magnificent. The background harmonies are flawless. They all do an outstanding job vocally. They may not be musically in their comfort zone, but that didn’t stop them from singing an incredible song.
# 3 – Respect Yourself
This empowering song is from the Be Altitude: Respect Yourself album. This song has a midtempo soul and rock sound. This anthemic song is about the Civil Rights Movement. Songwriter Luther Ingram was tired of what was going on in the world at the time when this song was written. He wanted African Americans to respect themselves. This is one of the group’s most recognizable songs. The music is rhythmic and appealing. The groove is undeniable. It cleverly blends soul, funk and rock. The guitar riffs are phenomenal. The drumbeat is excellent and will have you tapping your foot. Pops opens the song with his relaxed vocals. When Mavis Staples takes over, the song comes alive. She takes it to another level with her awe-inspiring vocals. Her vocals are pure and she really sells the song.
# 2 – Let’s Do It Again
This sensual song is from the soundtrack Let’s Do It Again. This ballad has a soul sound. This arousing song is about having sex with the one you love. Here is some trivia about the song. Curtis Mayfield wrote this for the group. Pops didn’t want to sing this song at first. His daughters had to talk him into doing the song. This song was also a surprise to their gospel fans because it strays away from their gospel music. It features sexual lyrics, which isn’t what they usually sing about. Despite the song not being their typical style, it’s an impressive song. The song proves that they can sing songs other than gospel songs. Everything about the music works. The music is soft and soothing. They use almost every instrument possible to make the song work. Mavis Staples does an excellent job vocally. She sings this song in a higher register than the other songs. Curtis Mayfield also makes an appearance in the song. He does a good job even though he isn’t in that much.
# 1 – I’ll Take You There
Coming in at number one on our Top 10 Staple Singers Songs list is the hugely popular “I’ll Take You There” from the Be Altitude: Respect Yourself album. This ballad has an r&b, funk and soul sound. This emotive song is about going to a better place. This has a good message about going to a better place when you pass away. Here is some trivia about the song. The writer wrote this song after his brother was shot to death. This simple song is a call and response song. This means the song has no verses or choruses. This allows the group to have plenty of room to shine vocally. Mavis Staples takes us to church with her soulful and bluesy vocals. She holds little notes in the song that add flavor to it. This is a great vehicle for her. Mavis Staples blends in with the musicians. Mavis Staples mostly ad libs the song and never strays from the authenticity of the song. Mavis Staples manages to take control of the song without becoming over the top.