Home Read Albums Of The Week: Staples Jr. Singers | Searching

Albums Of The Week: Staples Jr. Singers | Searching

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “When siblings Edward, R.C. and Annie Brown were growing up in Mississippi, they would pile into their family van and travel across the South, performing sometimes as many as three shows in a single day.

Back then, the South was desegregated on paper but not always in practice, and the Staples Jr. Singers were influenced by what they saw: The backlash after desegregation, Civil Rights, and wrote music with messages of community and social justice. “All the songs we were singing about,” said lead singer Edward Brown, “we were going through it.”

In 1975, when the Staples Jr. Singers were just teenagers, they got to make a single record together, When Do We Get Paid. They paid for the record themselves and pressed a few hundred copies, selling most of them on their front lawn to their neighbors. After the re-issue of When Do We Get Paid in 2022, the singers finally had their time in the sun.

Photo by Eliza Grace Martin.

While the Browns continued to play together, they never made another full-length record together — until now. Searching was recorded in a single-room church called The Message Center in West Point, Miss., in October 2023. There, three generations of the Brown family played songs that Edward, Annie, and R.C. have been singing together for most of their lives.

“It was good to be able to go back,” said Annie Brown Caldwell, “and look back over our life. Some of the same songs that we had sung, those songs have a new meaning to me.”

The Staples have now concluded four successful tours of Europe, including celebrated appearances at Le Guess Who?, the North Sea Jazz Festival and WOMAD UK, as well as sold-out shows in Köln, Stockholm, and Paris, among so many others. In Dublin, their childhood family photo was plastered on a giant billboard. They’re appearing in film documentaries in Sweden and Germany, and in America their work has been exhibited in Chicago and New York, alongside Theaster Gates, Amiri Baraka, Carrie Mae Weems and others.”