News / Arts & Entertainment

Candi Staton Brings Multiple Stylistic Elements to 'Life Happens'

Katherine Cole

Candi Staton has been called the “First Lady of Southern Soul” thanks to a string of hits in the 1970s that included R&B versions of "Stand By Your Man" and "In The Ghetto." Later, she topped the disco charts, before turning back to her roots singing gospel music. Staton brings all those stylistic elements and more together in her new album, Life Happens.

Candi Staton Brings Multiple Stylistic Elements to 'Live Happens'
Candi Staton Brings Multiple Stylistic Elements to 'Live Happens'i
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

The new album finds 74-year-old Staton back in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and reunited with producer Rick Hall for the first time since they made music history at FAME studios back in the 1970s. Hall produced three of the 13 tracks on the disc. Marcus Williams helmed the rest. Williams, whose resume includes work with John Legend, Stevie Wonder & Tyler Perry, is also Staton’s son - which brought a different dynamic to the studio sessions.

“Well, you can kind of tell him what to do. You can’t tell a lot of producers what to do," she said. "I used to call him up and say ‘you know what? I lived with that song last night. I need to do that first verse over. I need to come over right now because I’m in good voice and I need to put it down.’ And he’d say ‘Come on! Let’s do it, let’s just do it.’”

While there are two producers sharing credit on the album, Staton said she took total control of the project.

“For the first time in my whole career, and I’ve been doing this, Lord, since I was five or six years old, I’ve always had people telling me what to do," she said. "What not to sing. What to sing, how to sing it. And this time, I was so free. I was able to write my own stuff, sing it the way I wanted it, do it as many times as I felt I need to. I mean, I was just in charge.”

The songs she wrote for Life Happens tell the story of life’s ups and downs.

“I was going through all kinds of things: getting with the wrong people, getting abused and getting talked to, disrespected and stuff. And I would sit down and start writing about it," she said. "That’s how I came up with "Three Minutes to A Relapse" and "You Treat Me Like a Secret." I had this guy who would always treat me like a secret, he would always go ‘You can drive your car and meet me there.” I’d say ‘You’re dreaming…”

 She said the song "Treat Me Like a Secret" is striking a chord with a lot of her audience.

“They’ve been through it, too," she said. "They can relate.”

After much success with disco, soul and gospel, Staton surprised longtime fans in 2006 by changing her sound again. The result was an album called His Hands, which was embraced by fans of rock and roots-based Americana music. Her new CD is the third to have a few tracks with that rootsy sound … not that she likes hearing musicians put into boxes like that.

“Everybody’s in a different category. You know what? I’m a gospel, country, blues type of vocalist. And that’s exactly what Americana is," Staton said. "It’s a bluesy, kinda country, kinda thing. And I’ve been doing it forever. It’s just natural for me.”  

"I Ain’t Easy To Love" is one of the tracks on Life Happens that was produced by Rick Hall -- and it updates the Muscle Shoals sound he pioneered in the 1970s. Bluesy, with a full horn section, it finds Staton singing with John Paul White of the Civil Wars and Jason Isbell. It’s a nice compliment to the funkier songs sampled earlier.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”