Tag: Bob Dylan

Mavis Staples Tells Her Own Story in HBO Documentary “Mavis!”

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Mavis Staples attends the NY Premiere of HBO’s documentary film ‘MAVIS!’ at Florence Gould Hall on February 24, 2016 in New York City.  (MICHAEL LOCCISANO/GETTY IMAGES FOR HBO)

article by Nsenga K. Burton, Ph. D. via theroot.com

Legendary singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples has been in the business of making music and changing lives for over 60 years. The Chicago-born singer with the signature raspy voice launched her career in 1950 as part of the family gospel group The Staple Singers, comprised of her father (Pops) and three older sisters (Cleotha, Pervis and Yvonne). The “skinny 15-year-old girl with the big voice” was often mistaken for a man or a big woman, surprising fans with her childlike appearance despite her full-bodied voice.

Like many family acts, the Staples honed their craft in the church before taking their show on the road. Having recorded a couple of singles, the Staples Singers hit their stride with the 1957 release of “Uncloudy Day,” on the renowned Vee-Jay Records, which became a mainstream hit. The rest as they say is music history. Staples’ life and times as a singer and activist are chronicled in the HBO documentary Mavis!, directed by Jessica Edwards, who made it her goal to capture the life of a living legend in her words on her terms, having realized that “No one had done the story of her.”

Mavis! chronicles the rise of the Staples Singers and their evolution from gospel to freedom songs to soul music. Staples leads viewers down memory lane recalling the group’s work with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, her romance with the love of her life (musical giant Bob Dylan) and Staples desire to remain humble despite her staying power and overcoming the precariousness of the music business.

The 76-year-old, who still lives in Chicago, is still touring and picking up awards, having recently won a 2016 Grammy for Best Roots Performance for the song, “See That My Grave is Kept Clean.”  Staples is proud of her win. “It’s a wonderful feeling for an artist of my generation to be honored and recognized,” says Staples. “It’s very inspiring and it makes me feel like my decision not to retire and to keep making new music was the right one,” she adds.

To read more, go to: http://www.theroot.com/articles/culture/2016/03/mavis_staples_tells_her_own_story_in_mavis.html

Mavis! is currently airing on HBO. Check local listings

David McCallum, Wrongfully Imprisoned for 29 Years, Finally Released Thanks to Years of Lobbying by Rubin “Hurricane” Carter

David McCallum, who was just 16 when he was found guilty of kidnapping and shooting a man in 1985, is expected to have his conviction overturned by a New York judge on Wednesday 

A Brooklyn man who has spent the past 29 years in prison for murder is expected to walk free on Wednesday.

David McCallum, together with co-defendant Willie Stuckey, were found guilty of kidnapping and shooting Nathan Blenner, 20, in a Bushwick park in October 1985. The two 16-year-olds were sentenced to 25 years to life behind bars the next year.

Stuckey died in prison in 2001, but McCallum has had his innocence championed by late boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who served 19 years in prison after he was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1966.

David McCallum, who was just 16 when he was found guilty of kidnapping and shooting a man in 1985, is expected to have his conviction overturned by a New York judge today.  Just two months before Carter died in April he wrote an op-ed for the New York Daily News in which he called for Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson to review McCallum’s case.

“My single regret in life is that David McCallum… is still in prison,” Carter wrote. “Knowing what I do, I am certain that when the facts are brought to light, Thompson will recommend his immediate release.”

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R.I.P. Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Boxer Whose Murder Convictions Were Overturned

Denzel Washington, Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and Evander Holyfield at 1999 premiere of "Hurricane"
Denzel Washington, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter and Evander Holyfield at 1999 premiere of “Hurricane”

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a star prizefighter whose career was cut short by a murder conviction in New Jersey and who became an international cause célèbre while imprisoned for 19 years before the charges against him were dismissed, died on Sunday morning at his home in Toronto. He was 76.

The cause of death was prostate cancer, his friend and onetime co-defendant, John Artis, said. Mr. Carter was being treated in Toronto, where he had founded a non-profit organization, Innocence International, to work to free prisoners it considered wrongly convicted.

Mr. Carter was convicted twice on the same charges of fatally shooting two men and a woman in a Paterson, N.J., tavern in 1966. But both jury verdicts were overturned on different grounds of prosecutorial misconduct.

The legal battles consumed scores of hearings involving recanted testimony, suppressed evidence, allegations of prosecutorial racial bias — Mr. Carter was black and the shooting victims were white — and a failed prosecution appeal to the United States Supreme Court to reinstate the convictions.  Denzel Washington was nominated for an Academy Award in 2000 for starring in “Hurricane”, a film about Carter’s fight for justice.

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