The gospel-soul Staple Singers had been expertly chronicled in a 2014 biography by Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot, among other recountings of the group's history. So it wasn't an instant yes when Mavis Staples was asked to submit to a documentary team. "I tried not to do it," says the original soul stirrer, now 76, who started recording with the family group in her mid-teens. "I said, 'I've told my story so much. The Staple Singers, we are documented.' But they thought we were not on film as much." The professional home-movie appeal finally got to her. "There was lots of footage, but it wasn't all on the same documentary. To see it all put together like that just brought joy to my heart. I really wish Pops could have seen it, and my mother."
But for director Jessica Edwards, the fascinating old black-and-white clips were incidental to where she really wanted to take the "I'll Take You There" singer. "For me, even more interesting than the incredible history she has is the story about how, as an older creative person, you keep yourself interested and motivated to do things," says Edwards, citing Staples' recent records with indie youngsters like Jeff Tweedy and M. Ward at the helm.