Listening to: Candi Staton

Candi Staton

Candi Staton is a “southern soul” singer who recorded several albums for Fame Records in famous Muscle Shoals, Alabama (where many others, like Aretha Franklin, recorded with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section). Candi Staton came from a gospel background and only turned herself into a secular singer relatively late in life (in her 30s).

This compilation contains 26 incredible pieces of music that clearly and definitively affirm her (to me, at least) as the equal of Aretha Franklin. Every performance is heartfelt and comes from a place of knowledge: she’s lived the stories in these songs. As a result, she’s not so much ‘interpreting’ them than simply asserting their truth through her performance.

After these 60/70s records, Candi Staton changed record labels (to Warner), turned disco (presumably to stay relevant) and recorded “Young Hearts Run Free,” a sort of perennial retro disco favourite and not at all a good indication of who she is as a singer. In the 80s, it appears that some tough personal relationships (and the resulting alcohol or drug abuse) eventually made her quit secular music and return to gospel. She founded her own ministry, recorded some very successful albums and was nominated for a few Grammys.

Candi Staton His Hands

In 1996, she returned to secular music with His Hands, a quiet return to southern soul produced by Lambchop’s Mark Nevers. It received mixed, but mostly positive reviews. It’s worth listening to, if only because it’s an interesting example of ‘aging gracefully’ in the music industry, like Loretta Lynn’s co-operation with Jack White, or Dolly Parton’s lovely bluegrass albums of the early 2000s.

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