'Pops' Staples Blues Marker Goes Up On Mississippi Trail
December 18, 2010JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- The latest marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail is dedicated to Roebuck ``Pops'' Staples, a well-known gospel singer and patriarch of the Staple Singers music group.
The marker was placed on Summit Street near the courthouse in Winona on Thursday, said Alex Thomas, music development program manager for the Mississippi Development Authority.
Staples was born on a farm near Winona on Dec. 28, 1914. He began playing blues as a youngster in the Delta, but soon embarked on a gospel singing career leading the Staple Singers to international fame and crossover success in the rhythm & blues and pop fields, according to information from MDA.
``Pop Staples had a significant role when you look at how gospel music and blues and soul music all intertwined,'' Thomas said Thursday. ``He was influential in creating a lot of songs that were a staple in the African American community that you still hear today.''
Among Staples' hits with his group were ``I'll Take You There'' and ``Respect Yourself.''
Staples and his thirteen older siblings were raised around the Mayfield and Kilmichael communities in Montgomery County. The family later moved to the Dr. Joseph David Swinney plantation west of Minter City and then to the Dockery plantation near Drew.
Staples was inspired by blues legend Charley Patton, a Dockery resident, and Howlin' Wolf, who often performed in Drew. Staples soon took up guitar and began frequenting plantation juke houses, but also sang in church and at local gospel gatherings in Carroll and Montgomery County churches, according to blues trail historians.
His children Cleotha and Pervis were born at Dockery, followed by Yvonne, Mavis and Cynthia after the family moved to Chicago around 1936.
Thomas said finding a place for the marker was difficult because the site where Staples was born is remote.
``There's no landmark significance (at the spot chosen), but we didn't want to put it way out in the woods where no one would see it,'' Thomas said.
Staples didn't consider himself a blues singer, but he did collaborate on recordings with blues artists and won a Grammy in the Contemporary Blues category for his final CD, ``Father Father.''
The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. Staples died in Dolton, Illinois, on Dec. 19, 2000.