Yvonne Staples of the Staple Singers Dead at 80 (Updated)

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Yvonne Staples of the Staple Singers Dead at 80 (Updated)

Update: The New York Times reports that, according to Staples family friend Bill Carpenter, Yvonne Staples’ cause of death was colon cancer. The Guardian notes that Yvonne was diagnosed just two weeks ago.

Original Story: Yvonne Staples, a key member of renowned music group the Staple Singers who was known for her soulful baritone, has died at her South Shore, Chicago home, according to Leak & Sons Funeral Home (via the Chicago Sun-Times). She was 80 years old.

Yvonne, her sisters Mavis and Cleotha, and their father, Roebuck “Pops” Staples, made up the Staple Singers, an internationally renowned gospel-soul act known for hits including “I’ll Take You There,” “Respect Yourself,” “Let’s Do It Again,” “Heavy Makes You Happy” and “If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me).” They’ve been called “God’s greatest hitmakers.”

Yvonne was born in Chicago to Pops and Oceola Staples, both of whom hailed from Mississippi. In the 1940s, she started singing alongside Mavis and their brother Pervis in their uncle’s church, replacing her brother in the Staples Singers in 1970 after he was drafted into the army.

The Staple Singers recorded 30 albums over the course of their careers, including a series of ‘70s hits on Stax Records, appeared in concert documentary Wattstax in 1972 and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. They were honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame just this year.

Yvonne is survived by her sister Mavis, 78, who is currently touring in support of her latest album, If All I Was Was Black. Pops Staples died in 2000 and Cleotha, the oldest of the Staples sisters, died in 2013. “That harmony is always going to be there,” Mavis told the Sun-Times in 2003, “because you all grew up together.”

Listen to a 1968 Staple Singers performance from the Paste Cloud below.