Mavis Staples is an unmistakable presence, in every sense. Her gifts go for beyond the passionate, deep voice that has been an inspiring call to action since the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Mavis Staples still carries the sound and conviction of those “Freedom Highway” days supporting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but it is her boundless and unbreakable spirit that captivates everyone around the artist today.

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Mavis Staples celebrates her 80th birthday officially on July 10 next month, but she already has friends in line to start the party at three major cities.

When the songstress was set to host festivities at New York City's Apollo Theater, she sat down with “CBS This Morning” co-anchor, Anthony Mason for a June 15 interview and priceless three-song set for “Saturday Sessions” on the early-morning broadcast. It was Mason’s last Saturday as co-host, and Mavis Staples gifted him with an on-the-spot treasure in song.

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Success like never before

Seniority and talent alone can never bring the kind of cross-generational appeal and success that has followed Mavis Staples. Since she was a girl, she sang with her beloved “Pops” Staples and siblings Cleotha, Pervis, and Yvonne. She not only carries the legacy of love and conviction in the older songs like “Pop’s Recipe” and the eternal “I’ll Take You There,” but she has forged lasting creative friendships and partnerships with producers Jeff Tweedy and M Ward.

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Beyond gathering Grammys in her senior years, Mavis feels better than ever.

“I'm supposed to be going on in,” Staples declares, “but I'm coming on out!”

The Newport Folk Festival organized the shows in Nashville, New York, and Los Angeles in honor of Mavis Staples’ 80th birthday milestone, and didn't have to worry about anyone not wanting to be on stage with the marvel.

Mavis has made the Talking Heads’ “Slippery People” one of her own standouts, and David Byrne was delighted to duet with her.

Jason Isbell has overcome past struggles to attain the highest honors as a songwriter and Americana musician. He shared the stage with Staples and considers her “one of the greatest singers and interpreters and songwriters and performers ever.” Beyond artistry, Norah Jones praised Mavis Staples as a “warm, sweet human.”

Relative newcomer, Maggie Rogers called her feelings for Staples “reverence,” not only for her talent but even more for her attitude and spirit.

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“I want to be that now,” insists Rogers, much less at age 80.

Three star-studded celebrations don't seem enough for Mavis. “It really should be five,” she stated to Anthony Mason, since “I've gone from 8 to 80.”

Staples maintains a daily regimen of honey in ginger tea and regular vocal exercises to keep her voice strong. She also has a strong punch. The singer dons pink boxing gloves and stays primed for a knockout.

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She's proud of the T-shirt sold at her shows, depicting “my dukes up in the air.” Her skills started early when she had to defend against bullies in Mississippi as a child.

The acclaimed artist could have anything on the menu, but she's careful to have salmon instead of pork chops. The main forces that propel her are her faith and love of what she does, along with the people beside her. Guitarist, Rick Holmstrom, is a mainstay in keeping the Staples sonic legacy.

This Saturday broadcast was the last for Anthony Mason, who is now one of the Monday through Friday co-anchors on “CBS This Morning.” He assured that “Saturday Sessions” would carry on, and before Mavis Staples performed, she closed their interview with a song inspired by Anthony.

“That's a great title,” the singer affirmed to Mason when he suggested, “You live to sing.” Right then and there, she opened a song with those words, closing with “for my friends and family and my Anthony,” adding a joyful shriek.

Mason teased about getting a credit. Mavis responded that he will get a percentage on this latest hit.

Strong and still believing

Change” was the first selection performed from Staples’ “We Get By” album. Holmstrom’s resonant strings set the groove on this call to social action, spanning everything from gun violence to political consciousness. Mavis looked ready for a run in her stylish sneakers and took a song for a truly earnest trek with Holstrom joining her backup chorus.

The theme of “Stronger” went from the Bible to this morning's headlines. The song heralds the reminder that “nothin’ in the world is stronger than my love for you,” in a time when simple love is sorely needed. Pops has to be smiling down from heaven when he hears this one.

We Get By” is a calm assurance of strength, faith, and unity in troubled times. This title song performance had support from singer, Donnie Gerrard, but make no mistake, the Mavis Staples stamp of soulfulness still prevails.

These “Saturday Sessions” offerings are sure to bring a “go to church” kind of Sunday comfort to any day of the week, as only Mavis Staples can.

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