Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - The Stapleton Singers

The old gospel song "Tell Him What You Want" gets a rousing treatment from 22-year-old Mavis and the Staple Singers.

In 1961, the tiny D-Town label released a 45 by the Stapleton Singers, "I Will Trust the Lord" backed with "Tell Him What You Want" - better known as "Jesus on the Mainline." It didn't do much. Flash forward ahead to 1965 and the Staple Singers - Pops Staples and kids Pervis, Yvonne and Mavis - are big hits. To capitalize on their fame, D-Town re-released the same 45, only now with the correct name of the group on the label!

The Staple Singers, of course, would go on to have a host of hits for different major labels - "Respect Yourself," "I'll Take You There," "Freedom Highway" and become heroes of the civil rights movement. Sister Mavis is a musical icon and continues to thrill audiences around the world. But if you had somehow managed to find a copy of the original "Tell Him What You Want" in 1961 - you'd know from a single listen that 22-year-old Mavis was destined to be a star!

2338 Staple Singers - Tell Him What You Want.mp3

MUSIC: The Staple Singers, "Tell Him What You Want," 45 (September 17, 2023)

I'm Robert Darden ... "Shout! Black Gospel Music Moments" is produced by KWBU, the Black Gospel Music Preservation Program at Baylor University Libraries and is funded by generous support from the Prichard Foundation.

SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - Rev. Raymond Dozier
The patriarch of the Dozier family of gospel singers, the Rev. Raymond Dozier, is a masterful gospel singer himself – witness his rendition of “No Kids Allowed.”
SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - The Sons of the Birds
When a member of the Dixie Hummingbirds missed a show, a member of the Sons of the Birds stepped right in!
SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - Dorothy Maynor
The glorious voice of Dorothy Maynor deserves to be better known today.
SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - Rev. Willie A. Treadwell
The Rev. Willie A. Treadwell’s Treadwell Community Singers were much loved in their native Chicago for their rendition of old favorites like “Sit Down, Servant.”
SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - Rev. Milton Brunson and the Thompson Community Singers
The Rev. Milton Brunson and the Thompson Community Choir’s “It’s Gonna Rain” may be the best cover version ever of an Andrae Crouch and the Disciples songs.
SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - The Bethlehem Healing Temple
“It’s Going to Rain” is a live recording of the congregation at the Bethlehem Healing Temple lost in the throes of the Holy Spirit for nearly 16 minutes!
SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - "The Virgin Mary Had One Son" by The Staple Singers
The Staple Singers’ elegiac, mournful version of the ancient spiritual “The Virgin Mary Had One Son” is a great way to say goodbye to 2023!
SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - "We Three Kings" by Williams Brothers
You’re not likely to hear a more creative interpretation of the old carol “We Three Kings” than this one by the Williams Brothers.
SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - "Christmas Joy" by The Soul Stirrers
The legendary Soul Stirrers recorded a handful of Christmas songs in the late 1960s, including the pop-oriented “Christmas Joy.”
SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments - "Children, Go Where I Send Thee" by The Gospel Starlets
The Gospel Starlet’s version of the old folk spiritual “Children Go Where I Send Thee” owes much to legendary producer Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” approach.

Robert F. Darden is the author of two dozen books, most recently: Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-In to Resurrection City (Penn State University Press, 2016); Nothing But Love in God’s Water, Volume I: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement(Penn State University Press, 2014); Jesus Laughed: The Redemptive Power of Humor(Abingdon Press, 2008), Reluctant Prophets and Clueless Disciples: Understanding the Bible by Telling Its Stories(Abingdon Press, 2006); and People Get Ready! A New History of Black Gospel Music(Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2004).