SXSW Coverage

Mavis World Premiere at SXSW

todayMarch 31, 2015 28

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By: Taryn Peters

The name Mavis Staples may be unfamiliar to a lot of people my age, but it is highly likely that a song graced by Mavis’ voice is familiar to their ears. With the documentary Mavis!, director Jessica Edwards hopes to make Mavis Staples’ story and musical impact more well-known to those who are missing out, and I agree — it is definitely a story people should hear. From how her family band, The Staples Singers, was formed to a little romance with singer Bob Dylan to the recent revitalization of her solo career, Mavis! is a right-on-time, feel good film that will send you through a range of emotions with its storytelling.

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Singer Mavis Staples is reunited with director Jessica Edwards at the world premiere of “Mavis!”.

Mavis Staples was in attendance at The Paramount Theatre for her documentary’s premiere, seeing the finished product for the first time like everyone in the audience. Staples received a standing ovation as she joined some of the crew members on stage after the film for a Q&A session.

I can’t imagine that there was a dry eye in the place. It seemed that nearly everyone in the theater, from the stage to the seats, had watery eyes or sniffling noses. It was an extremely touching and emotional experience, but much like the film, with every tearful moment, laughter followed shortly after. A crowd member asked about Mavis’ hairstyles over the years to which she answered “well now, I just buy it.”
That sentiment embodies Mavis’ essence and style; with every tearful moment that occurs in life, Mavis’ positive, uplifting spirit shines a light that drives out the darkness of pretty much any situation. Jessica Edwards did a great job of illustrating that in the documentary although it probably wasn’t hard to do with a warm and honest subject like Mavis Staples.

The feel-good times continued as Mavis surprised the audience with a powerful performance of the title track from her Grammy-award winning album You Are Not Alone as well as the song “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize”. The energy was incredible and so soulful. It was the perfect setting for an early Sunday afternoon.

If you have the chance, I encourage you to check out the film Mavis!

You can also find music similar to the vibe of the Staples Singers’ discography on KTSW’s specialty show Rare Groove every Monday from 8pm to 10 p.m.

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