Mavis Staples brings ‘positive vibrations’ to the High Country

Carli Johnson

The Schaefer Center was filled with cheer and excitement when the iconic soul singer Mavis Staples came to visit the High Country Saturday night. Her presence lit up the room for a night of dancing, singing and feeling all the love. 

The audience greeted Staples with a standing ovation and she welcomed them with the groovy tune “If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me).” The audience danced for the entire first number, making her feel as welcome as they were excited. 

“We finally made it,” Staples said about her excitement to be in Boone. In her profoundly raspy voice, Staples said “we came here tonight to bring joy, happiness, inspiration and some positive vibrations.” 

After 73 years of performing, Staples has acquired an incredibly diverse fanbase. Allison West, director of marketing for the Schaefer Center, noted the wide demographic of the audience from age, race and gender. 

“It really did seem like the audience ranged from about 18 to 80 years old,” she said. “I think that contributed to the electrifying energy in the venue.”

Staples played hits from her time performing with The Staples Singers like “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom),” to more recent songs from her solo albums like “You Are Not Alone.” No matter the song, her message is consistent: to spread love and kindness. 

Even with songs that aren’t originally hers, her lyrics and passion are motivated and carried by the love in her heart, said concert-goer Mary Mevthin of Watauga County. 

“Her message is so pure,” Mevthin said.  

Mevthin said she has been listening to Mavis Staples since her glory days with The Staples Singers. 

“You just felt the good vibe coming from her into the room,” Mevthin said.

Staples storytelling is evident in both song and spoken word. She shared stories of performing with friends and family. Many audience members reminisced with her at the mention of late singers like Aretha Franklin and her father Roebuck “Pops” Staples. She had the audience laughing, chatting and dancing.

“She exudes love,” West said. “The audience felt that and rightfully gave it back in return.” 

The concert concluded with the hit “I’ll Take You There.” Accompanied by the audience, Staples was dancing with the crowd from the stage. “We want you to leave here feeling better than when you first got in here,” Staples said at the beginning of her performance. By the end, she had the whole audience dancing, clapping, singing and smiling. 

The performance is part of the Schaefer Center Presents series, which features three more shows this spring. On March 8, LA Theatre Works brings Lucy Loves Desi: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sitcom. It is a radio stage play about the pioneering sitcom “I Love Lucy” and its leading star and husband. On March 23, a Japanese ensemble of high-energy taiko drumming called KODO One Earth Tour will be visiting the High Country. Finally, the spring concert series will close with an international quartet of different instruments on April 22.