Yvonne Staples of 'The Staple Singers' dies from colon cancer at the age of 80
Yvonne Staples, member of legendary American gospel, soul, R&B singing group 'The Staple Singers,' has passed away at the age of 80, confirmed representatives for her sister and bandmate, Mavis Staples, to NPR. She was 80-years-old.
Staples reportedly died at her home in the South Shore area of Chicago on Tuesday, with the New York Times reporting that colon cancer was the culprit. An official statement has not been issued by the family addressing the singer's death. Because of her achievements in singing in a career that spanned decades, she's gone, but will never be forgotten.
Yvonne began singing at an early age, delivering performances in church choirs in the 40s along with her siblings, Mavis, Pervis, and Cleotha. However, she was not initially a member of 'The Staple Singers', which was formed in 1948 and led by her father, Roebuck 'Pops' Staples. She was called up only after Pervis was drafted into the U.S Army and Cleotha took time out to get married.
She would serve as both, a background singer, as well as a business manager. When asked about the business background in her family and how she came to take on the dual role in an interview with the Rold & Roll Hall of Fame, she explained: "I was eight years old and Pops bought an old black Underwood typewriter, and that's how I started."
Stars of gospel and secular music, 'The Staple Singers' always stayed true to their religious roots and delivered numerous hits in the 70s such as 'Respect Yourself', 'I'll Take You There', 'If You're Ready (Come Go with Me)', and 'Let's Do It Again.'
Because they incorporated numerous social messages in their songs as well, they became a favorite of Martin Luther King Jr. The group was all too familiar with the inequality their community faced and were often the target of racist remarks when they toured America's so-called bible belt.
Lauryn Hill inducted The Staple Singers into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and the group was similarly inducted into the Gospel Hall of Fame in 2018. They were also given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2005 Grammys.
Patriarch Pops Staples passed away in 2000, while her sister Cleotha died in 2013 after a prolonged 12-year-long battle with Alzheimer's. After Yvonne's death, Mavis and Pervis Staples remain the only surviving members of the group.