Mavis Staples has packed lifetimes of love, learning, and song into her 78 years. Her deep, resonant tones became the soundtrack of the civil rights movement for millions and transformed what many defined as the genre of gospel music. Mavis Staples’ memories alone are treasures of modern times, worthy of preservation in the American lexicon, and then there are her songs. Mavis Staples, her sisters, and her irrepressible Pops didn't just sing “Freedom Highway.” Their voices, sweat, tears, and terrors became as much a part of the pavement and dirt roads as every person who was marching step-by-step and making history.

These days, Mavis Staples is having her share of fun as an artist, even rekindling some loving fires with her old boyfriend, Bob Dylan. Her songs are still making penetrating statements, and so is her conversation, as evidenced in a talk with Rolling Stone on February 25. Mavis Staples has so much to say, and still remains an icon, who knows that this life is short, and she makes every day a gift from her soul to throngs of listening hearts.

What any girl wants

Mavis Staples has been on tour with Bob Dylan, truly bringing their storied relationship full circle, in many ways. The two had a serious romance around 1963, being drawn together on many showcases of the folk music circuit, in stage and television performances.

Bob Dylan proposed, and Mavis declined, but their affection still thrives. They were tackling a duet of “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking” from Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming” album in 2002. Her spirit and groove were as fresh as ever, but some of the lyrics through seven verses were escaping from Mavis Staples. She inquired as to whether her legendary singing partner had a Teleprompter.

Doing an imitation of his reply, which was “I'm too cheap to buy a Teleprompter,” Mavis Staples replied, with an almost audible fluttering eye, that “You can buy one for me, Bobby!” The kismet connection is still there.

Still soaring and serving

The last decade and a half have been especially prolific for Mavis Staples. She was struggling after Pops’ passing and coping with sister and bandmate, Cleedy, who was struggling with dementia. She wanted to get back to her roots and feel her identity again in bringing her insatiable brand of hope and power to the public again.

Music labels don't generally have senior appreciation divisions and passed on putting the premiere voice, who promised “I'll Take You There” on their rosters again.

Her sister, Yvonne, was her encourager then, and Mavis Staples made 2004’s “Have a Little Faith” with money from her savings. The reception was golden and got the singer back on track not only as an artist in her own right but also as one of the most sought-after collaborators on the planet. Along with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, she has broadened her horizons with Prince, Gorillaz, and Arcade Fire, on their ultimate 2017 protest song, “I Give You Power.”

She still is giving hope, power, and even a “party” when needed most. Tweedy tells of Mavis visiting his wife through cancer treatments in the hospital, and the place becoming “a party” by the singer’s mere being.

“She has an effortless ability to make people feel better,” the producer confirmed. The vocalist vividly recalls her father punching a gas station attendant who called Mavis the “N-word,” and feeling grateful that the family spent the night in jail instead of being lynched.

Mavis is dealing with sister, Yvonne, in the throes of dementia now, admitting “I'm hurting.” She is lifted by long-distance conversations during which her sister repeats,” I love you, Mavis.” A sweet “Toodle-oo” signals a goodbye without tears, and that lifts the spirits before and going on stage.

Mavis Staples makes no secret of her thoughts on modern American affairs, calling the man in the White House “filthy,” and deeming that his sons are “snakes,” among more scriptural descriptions.

Through more than five decades, she has stood on the stage for presidential inaugurations, and rallies for equal rights, and confessed that she's never seen a leader comparable to the present one at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Beyond personal issues with truth and morality, the gospel legend laments the lack of regard for women as “nothing,” along with the stance on immigrants. Oddly enough, just this weekend at CPAC, it was immigrants who were labeled “snakes” in a speech.

The world needs the soul and sound from Mavis Staples more than ever in these times. Her tones simultaneously capture triumph through trials and taking strength from tortured times. She certainly takes on truth in her latest album, “If All I Was Was Black,” released last year.

“I feel like I’m helping,” she stressed regarding her artistry today. She gives praise to God for “putting me with some geniuses,” who concur that the presence of the Holy Ghost enters the studio with her vocal gifts. Gospel means good news, and millions of ears and hearts need a full allotment of that. By the way, there was “a lot of hugging” between her and Bobby after their last tour date in New York, too.