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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.

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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).