Mavis Staples—gospel singer, soul artist and Civil Rights activist—is nothing short of a living legend. She started singing gospel with her family in the 1950s and had a successful Stax career as front woman for the Staple Singers. Though the family specialized in gospel, Staples' raw vocals and the band's bluesy arrangements endeared them to secular and religious audiences alike.
At seventy-two, she shows no signs of slowing down. Last year, she released Grammy-winning gospel album, You Are Not Alone, in a collaboration with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. It featured a handful of newly arranged old gospel songs as well as new ones like these (penned by Tweedy):
Earlier in this series I did a post on the bluestockings and a Facebook commenter suggested I do a follow-up piece on Japanese anarchist feminists. I thought now would be a good opportunity to mention them and some more feminerd forerunners from around the globe, including Kurdistan, Indigenous North America, and even ancient Babylon.
Octavia E. Butler is most likely the best writer I've ever encountered. That's certainly true technically: she's flawless. I mean that there is literally not a thing I would change in her writing, and that is absolutely unique. But it's her incisive, loving explorations of a broken world that will blow your mind wide open.
A few years ago, I found a book-length literary magazine, Conditions:Five, amongst the discarded and donated books on the shelves in a local coffeehouse. I skimmed through it that day, just long enough to finish my cup of chai, before placing it back on the shelf. At the time, I had no idea that I'd held such a rich piece of history in my hands.