Mavis Staples has achieved every one of her life goals -- except for starring in a movie. “I told Justin Timberlake, ‘Look, Justin, your next movie, don’t forget about me. I’ll play the grandma,” says the 73-year- old singer, who began her career with family band the Staples Singers as a preteen in the 1950s. “He said, ‘Mavis, there’s no grandma,’ and I said, ‘There’s always a grandma!’”
Not that she would have time for the role if she got it. On June 25, Staples will release "One True Vine," her second collaboration with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy after 2010’s "You Are Not Alone." After six decades as a civil rights and gospel icon, that multigenre set earned Staples her first Grammy Award and highest chart debut at No. 69 on the Billboard 200, with sales to date of 60,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Her relentless tour schedule will take her to seven festivals before the end of June, and then straight to a CD release concert and a pair of dates opening for Dave Matthews Band.
“She never really comes off the circuit. She’s astonishing,” Anti- director of marketing Tom Osborn says. “She can play with anybody, so she plays with everybody.” For a label whose biggest acts like Tom Waits, Neko Case and Wilco itself generally sell in the quarter-million range, Staples is a signing of more cultural than commercial importance. “I have such a visceral memory of my mother playing [Staples Singers] records, and Mavis being the soundtrack to that period of my life,” Osborn says. “The opportunity to work with a national treasure like Mavis has been nothing short of remarkable.”