Yvonne Staples, singer in legendary family soul outfit The Staple Singers, passed away on Thursday at the age of 80 after a battle with colon cancer.
Though The Staple Singers began in Chicago in 1948, Yvonne joined the group, which featured her sisters Mavis and Cleo (who passed away in 2013), brother Pervis and father Rebuck “Pops” Staples (who passed away in 2000), in 1971 and assumed background singing duties, performing on the group’s hits like “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself,” while also handling the band’s business management responsibilities.
“She was very content in that role,” family friend Bill Carpenter and author of Uncloudy Day: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia tells The New York Times. “She had no desire to be a front singer, even though people in the family told her she had a great voice.”
Yvonne also joined Mavis as a background singer and manager for the elder Staple’s successful solo career until recently. The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and were given a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2005.
Below, watch a video of The Staple Singers performing “Respect Yourself” and “I’ll Take You There” at their RRHoF induction ceremony.