Blues artist Bonnie Raitt and gospel/soul singer Mavis Staples will perform at the Mondavi Center at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, launching several weeks of concert marking the performing arts center’s 10th anniversary.
Raitt and Staples are touring together in what Raitt has described to some interviewers as a “soul sister extravaganza.” Staples takes the stage first, and while her set list here may vary, her recent concerts on the tour have included a bit of gospel (“Didn’t Old Pharoah Get Lost”), some 1960s standards (Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and The Band’s “The Weight”), and, of course, some of The Staple Singers’ classics that Mavis sang in the 1970s (“I’ll Take You There”).
Raitt follows, and her recent performances have included her popular cover version of the 1978 Gerry Rafferty tune “Right Down The Line” (the first single from Raitt’s most recent album, “Slipstream”), and a cover version of John Prine’s 1971 song “Angel from Montgomery,” along with “Something to Talk About” and “This Thing Called Love.”
Raitt — the daughter of Broadway star John Raitt — enrolled in Radcliffe College in the late 1960s, but left to embark on a career as a singer/songwriter in the blues/Americana tradition. Her albums in the 1970s were always well received by critics and a group of loyal fans, but Raitt became broadly popular in the 1980s with albums like “Nick of Time” and “Luck of the Draw.”
She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.
She recently formed her own label, Redwing Records, and released her first effort on that label earlier this year — “Slipstream,” her 19th album. Even though she is currently on tour, Raitt recently found time to appear as a guest on the NPR quiz show “Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me,” contributing humorous comments about life on the road in addition to successfully answering several challenging questions.
Staples was for many years the lead singer of The Staples Singers, a group led by her father Roebuck “Pops” Staples. They performed on the gospel circuit (where Mavis met Mahalia Jackson as a child) and at rallies during the civil rights era. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was fond of their rendition of “Why Am I Treated So Bad.” Staples dated folksinger Bob Dylan, who reportedly asked to marry her at one point.
In the 1970s, The Staples Singers scored a string of hits, including “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There.” Mavis Staples launched a solo career, recording a number of songs produced by Prince in the early 1990s. She returned to her gospel roots, recording a Mahalia Jackson tribute album with keyboard player Lucky Peterson in 1996 — a program Staples and Peterson performed at Freeborn Hall in Davis a year or two after that album’s release.
She appeared at the Mondavi Center a few years ago, playing a set drawing on many of the civil rights-era tunes featured on her 2007 album “We’ll Never Turn Back,” produced by Ry Cooder. Her most recent album, “You Are Not Alone,” came out in 2010 and features gospel standards as well as new material.
Tickets for the Sept. 18 concert at 8 p.m. are $35-$95 general, $17.50-$47.50, available at www.mondaviarts.org or 530-754-2787.