The Staple Singers icon Mavis Staples has released the first single and title track from her upcoming LP, which is set for a November 17 release date. Check out "If All I Was Was Black" above, courtesy of the Anti Records YouTube channel.
Inspirited by Staples' warm and gentle vocals, the song is a vibrant mid-tempo tune with a tasteful assortment of rock, R&B, and soul sensibilities reminiscent of the gospel singer's 1970s repertoir. The lyrics are centered around encouraging post-racial camaraderie, as Mavis sings, "If all I was was Black, looking at you, you might look past, all the love I give, I've got natural gifts, got perspective... If all I was was Black, don't you know me more than that... And it's time for more love."
Written and produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, the album is an examination of the enduring social prejudices that have parasitically survived within the United States ever since its conception, and an attempt to coalesce the divisiveness that plagues our contemporary political landscape. In a statement on the Anti Records website, Mavis claims, "We're not loving one another the way we should... Some people are saying they want to make the world great again, but we never lost our greatness. We just strayed into division.”
The record follows Wilco's recent condemnatory tune "All Lives, You Say?", which was prompted by last month's distressing display of bigotry and senseless violence in Charlottesville. "I've always thought of art as a political statement in and of itself—that it was enough to be on the side of creation and not destruction. But there is something that feels complicit at this moment in time about not facing what is happening in this country head on," Tweedy elaborated, "The love I have for Mavis and the desire to be part of some kind of positive change are a big part of this album for me."
If All I Was Was Black is the third collaborative work between Staples and Tweedy, preceded by 2010's You Are Not Alone and 2013's One True Vine. Pre-order a copy of the LP on Amazon.