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Yvonne Staples, Singer and Manager of the Staple Singers, Dies at 80

Yvonne Staples, background singer and manager of the R&B family group the Staple Singers, died Tuesday in her Chicago home. She was 80.

Bill Carpenter, a family friend, confirmed Staples’s death to The New York Times, citing the cause as colon cancer.

The Staple Singers were formed in 1948 by the patriarch of the family, Roebuck “Pops” Staples. He was originally joined by his children Cleotha, Pervis and Mavis. After Pervis left to serve in the military in 1971, Yvonne stepped in to fill his place.

The family began singing in churches at the start of their career. The Staples were signed to multiple record labels including Epic and Stax Records. The group landed their first hit under Stax with “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom)” in 1971. In the following year, the group’s most recognized song “I’ll Take You There” topped the Billboard R&B and Billboard Hot 100 charts. Another hit titled “Respect Yourself” peaked at the second and 12th spot on the Billboard R&B and Billboard Hot 100 charts respectively. “Let’s Do It Again,” released in 1975, also became a pop hit in the U.S.

“On all the big hit records, Yvonne did the background vocals” and also served as the group’s business manager, Carpenter told The New York Times.

The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, with all the group members present at the ceremony to accept the honor. The Staple Singers were also presented with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, following “Pops” Staples death in 2000. Cleotha Staples died in 2013.

Yvonne Staples is survived by her brother and sister, Pervis and Mavis, the last living members of the group.

(Pictured: The Staples Singers, from left, Pervis, Cleotha, Pops, Mavis, and Yvonne at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York.) 

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