Mavis Staples (Photo: Paul Morigi/Stringer)

A new album is on the way from legendary soul singer Mavis Staples. Called If All I Was Was Black, the album sees Staples once again teaming up with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who produced and co-wrote the record’s slate of 10 brand-new songs. If All I Was Was Black is described as a pointedly political album tackling racism in contemporary America and how it’s a holdover of the country’s ugly past. The 78-year-old Staples is uniquely suited to taking on that subject matter; she famously began her musical career at a very young age, experiencing the hate and discrimination of the Jim Crow-era South as she toured with her family. “We didn’t make the songs point to a specific person,” Staples said of the new album. “If you follow the lyrics it’s about yesterday and today.” That comes through loud and clear on the poised, defiant title track, which was also released today.

In a statement from Staples’ record label, ANTI-, Tweedy emphasized our current need to treat division with compassion. “I’ve always thought of art as a political statement in and of itself—that it was enough to be on the side of creation and not destruction,” he said. “But there is something that feels complicit at this moment in time about not facing what is happening in this country head on.”

If All I Was Was Black is set to release on November 17. You can find a tracklist for the album, and hear the lead single “If All I Was Was Black,” below.

1. Little Bit

2. If All I Was Was Black

3. Who Told You That

4. Ain’t No Doubt About It (feat. Jeff Tweedy)

5. Peaceful Dream

6. No Time For Crying

7. Build A Bridge

8. We Go High

9. Try Harder

10. All Over Again

[via Pitchfork]

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