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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”