That sweetly roughened twang of Candi Staton’s has captivated a new generation of music lovers just as it did when she first hit the music scene as a soul siren in the `70s. That voice can be heard alongside those of Mick Jagger, etc. in the critically acclaimed 2013 documentary “Muscle Shoals” that profiles producer Rick Hall and the music he christened in that little Alabama town back in the sixties. The film captures Staton and Hall in the studio recording a new gem “I Ain’t Easy To Love” for the first time since their iconic 1969-74 hits of “I’m Just A Prisoner,” “Heart On A String” and “I’d Rather Be An Old Man’s Sweetheart” built Staton’s career.
Meanwhile, rising stars are still sampling Staton’s back catalogue. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Florence & The Machine, One Eskimo, Christina Aguilera, Susan Tedeschi, Joss Stone and Janiva Magness are some of the young acts covering or sampling Staton’s classic songs.
Born in the farming town of Hanceville, AL, Staton grew up on a musical diet of B.B. King, Earnest Tubb and Hank Williams. She began singing in church at the age of four and toured the world as a member of The Jewel Gospel Trio in the 1950s – sharing stages with Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke & The Soul Stirrers. After high school, she became a housewife until her brother dared her to go on stage at Birmingham’s 27/28 Club in 1968 when an impromptu take on Aretha Franklin’s “Do Right Woman” won her a gig opening for R&B star Clarence Carter.
Carter eventually got her a record deal with Rick Hall’s Fame Records label. Over the next five years, Hall, who had produced Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” and Percy Sledge’s “When A Man Loves A Woman,” and Staton churned out more than a dozen country soul smashes such as their Grammy-nominated renditions of “Stand By Your Man” and “In the Ghetto” that established her as the First Lady of Southern Soul just as she was leaving Fame for Warner Bros. and tossed off her tiara to become a disco princess with club hits like 1976’s million-seller “Young Hearts Run Free,” “Victim,” “Nights on Broadway” and “When You Wake Up Tomorrow.”
By 1983, Staton had beaten an alcohol addiction, joined a church, left pop music and spent two decades as a gospel artist before the 2004 Honest Jons “Candi Staton” CD compilation of the singer’s FAME recordings revived interest in her brand of soul. It garnered ecstatic press reviews and reached the pop charts throughout Europe. The success led to the critically acclaimed Americana CDs “His Hands” (2006) and “Who’s Hurting Now?” (2009). Now, Staton and the producer who started it all for her, Rick Hall, have reunited for the first time in 40 years for a new bluesy, southern rock-infused CD of original material, “Life Happens,” that will release October 27, 2014 in the United Kingdom.