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Staples Jr. Singers

R.C. Brown, Edward Brown & Annie Brown Caldwell. Photograph by Adam Wissing

A family of musicians, four generations and counting, from Aberdeen, Mississippi. 

When siblings Edward and R.C. Brown, and Annie Brown Caldwell, were growing up in Mississippi. they would pile into their family van and travel across the South, performing sometimes as many as three shows in a single day.

Back then, the South was desegregated on paper but not always in practice, and the Staples Jr. Singers were influenced by what they saw: the backlash after desegregation, Civil Rights, and wrote music with messages of community and social justice.

“All the songs we were singing about,” said lead singer Edward Brown, “We were going through it.”

The Browns: Jewel, Edward, Troy, Marie Lashaye, Kolton, Treyvon, Damarion Potts, and R.C.

In 1975, when the Staples Jr. Singers were just teenagers, they got to make a single record together, When Do We Get Paid. They paid for the record themselves and pressed a few hundred copies, selling most of them on their front lawn to their neighbors.

After the re-issue of When Do We Get Paid (Luaka Bop, 2022), the Staples Jr. Singers finally had their time in the sun: The Guardian called their album “Powerful,” The Boston Globe named it #7 Best Album of the Year, and UNCUT (8/10) said that it was “music that deserves your attention.”

Searching, the new album from the Staples Jr. Singers.

While the Browns continued to play together, they never made another full-length record together—until now.

SEARCHING (out June 14) was recorded in a single-room church called The Message Center, in West Point, Mississippi, in October 2023. There, three generations of the Brown family played songs that Edward, Annie, and R.C. have been singing together for most of their lives.

“It was good to be able to go back,” said singer Annie Brown Caldwell, “and look back over our life. Some of the same songs that we had sung, those songs have a new meaning to me.”

The Staples have now concluded four successful tours of Europe, including celebrated appearances at Le Guess Who?, the North Sea Jazz Festival, and WOMAD UK, as well as sold out shows in Köln, Stockholm, and Paris, among so many others. In Great Britain, they were lauded by Gilles Peterson and Craig Charles of BBC 6 Music. In Dublin, their childhood family photo was plastered on a giant billboard.

The Staples Jr. Singers ca. 1975, from left to right: R.C. Brown, Corl Walker, † Cleveland Brown (top row); Annie Brown Caldwell, † Deacon Wordell Andrew, Edward Brown (middle row); † Ronnel Brown (front row). Courtesy of the Staples Jr. Singers / Luaka Bop.

They’re appearing in film documentaries in Sweden and Germany, and in America their work has been exhibited at the gallery GRAY in Chicago and New York, alongside Theaster Gates, Amiri Baraka, Carrie Mae Weems, and others.

In July 2024, they’ll be starting another adventure overseas. Learn more about their upcoming tour here.

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