Chicago-born Mavis Staples has been singing rhythm & blues and gospel music for decades, beginning as a child with her family's band The Staple Singers. In recent years she has been a solo act, touring (with old friend Bob Dylan this summer) and steadily releasing new music. Staples' latest album is Livin' On A High Note, produced by M. Ward. Ward and ten other songwriters wrote new songs just for this project. Ben Harper, Justin Vernon, Neko Case, Valerie June, Nick Cave, Benjamin Booker and others wrote the material specifically for Mavis Staples to record. Staples explained: "I had been singing my freedom songs and I wanted to stretch out and sing some songs that were new...some joyful songs. I want to leave something to lift people up."