The influential gospel, rhythm and blues group the Staple Singers mourned the loss of a daughter, sister, and friend this week when Cleotha Staples passed away in her home on the South side of Chicago last Thursday morning.
Nicknamed “God’s Greatest Hitmakers”, the Staple Singers are America’s best selling gospel group, initially gaining a huge following with chart No. 1 hits like “I’ll Take You There”, and numerous top 40 classics such as “Respect Yourself” and “Heavy Makes You Happy”.
The group, fashioned entirely from members of the Staples family, was formed by Roebuck “Pops” Staples and his three daughters Cleotha, Yvonne, and Mavis. Cleotha was credited for the group’s distinctive sound, using her soothing and frictionless voice to accompany the groove of her father’s guitar and set the tone for the Staples melody.
After being under 24 hour home care while battling Alzheimer’s disease for over a decade, Cleotha died on Thursday at the age of 78.
Cleotha and the Staples were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and received a lifetime achievement award at the Grammy’s in 2005. Today their legacy lives on through Mavis Staples, former lead singer and youngest daughter of the group. Mavis has since been appearing on different venues performing with groups such as The Band and Win Butler of Arcade Fire . Mavis plans to dedicate her second record with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy in Cleotha’s memory later this year.