David Remnick at The New Yorker:
Mavis Staples has been a gospel singer longer than Elizabeth II has worn the crown. During concerts, sometimes, she might take a seat and rest while someone in her band bangs out a solo for a chorus or two. No one minds. Her stage presence is so unfailingly joyful—her nickname is Bubbles—that you never take your eyes off her. Staples sings from her depths, with low moans and ragged, seductive growls that cut through even the most pious lyric. She is sanctified, not sanctimonious. In her voice, “Help Me Jesus” is as suggestive as “Let’s Do It Again.” When she was a girl, singing with her family ensemble, the Staple Singers, churchgoers across the South Side of Chicago would wonder how a contralto so smoky and profound could issue from somebody so young.
She is eighty-two. While singers a fraction of her age go to great lengths to preserve their voices, drinking magical potions and warming up with the obsessive care of a gymnast, she doesn’t hold back.