Four-time Grammy® Award nominated singer Candi Staton is one of the most enduring yet underrated artists in music. She has sweetly strutted between several musical genres over the course of her celebrated career. However, dance music has always been her main groove as her iconic tracks “Young Hearts Run Free” and the multi-platinum declaration, “You Got the Love” attest. The former is a liberating self-preservation anthem that peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard R&B Singles chart in 1976 (No. 2 on the UK Pop chart). The latter is an inspiring spiritual chant that has, through various remixes, hit the British Top 10 Pop Singles chart in 1991, 1997 and again in 2006.
“I’ve been very blessed to have two extremely big songs and a lot of other respectable hit songs when some artists never get one,” says Staton. “I love how each generation discovers some old song of mine that I had long retired from my concert repertoire.” Young artists are often dusting off Staton’s classics and introducing them to their audiences. Jason Isbell reprised Staton’s 1969 B-side “Heart on A String.” Christina Aguilera sampled 1972’s “Best Thing You Ever Had” and French producer Jean Tonique’s remix of “Best Thing” was featured in a Twitter Super Bowl TV ad campaign. Blues princess Susan Tedeschi covered “Evidence.” Florence & The Machine and Joss Stone both cut fun covers of “You Got the Love” in 2010. The rock band One eskimO sampled Staton’s 1971 cut “He Called Me Baby” for their debut hit “Kandi” that peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Triple A chart in 2010. Artists ranging from the late Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige to young superstars such as Jessie J, Paloma Faith and Pixie Lott have all spoken publicly of their admiration for Staton’s music.
The Hanceville, Alabama native got her start singing professionally as a teenager singing with The Jewel Gospel Trio that recorded for Nashboro Records and toured with Sam Cooke and Mahalia Jackson in the 1950s. Eventually, she launched her R&B career at Birmingham’s 27/28 Club where she won a gig opening for R&B star Clarence Carter who snagged her a record deal with Rick Hall’s Fame Records label in 1968. Over the next five years, she cut a string of Top Ten southern soul hits such as Grammy-nominated renditions of “Stand by Your Man” and “In the Ghetto.” Staton was crowned the First Lady of Southern Soul just as she was leaving Fame for Warner Bros. and tossed off her tiara to become a disco princess with smash club hits such as 1976’s million-seller “Young Hearts Run Free,” “Nights on Broadway,” “Honest I Do,” “Victim” and “When You Wake Up Tomorrow.”
By 1983, Staton had beaten an alcohol addiction, joined a church, and left Pop music. She was a regular on Christian television programs such as “The PTL Club” and gained her own weekly TV program “New Direction” (later renamed “Say Yes”) on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) Network. For the next two decades, she recorded gospel music exclusively, including the Top Ten Grammy nominated projects, Make Me an Instrument (1983) and Sing A Song (1986) LPs. Her gospel classics include “Mama,” “The First Face I Want to See,” and “Sin Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” She brought dance grooves into the church with a rack of before-their-time disco-styled gospel songs such as “Sing A Song” and “Nothing Can Separate Me” that she coined as gospco.
In 2004, Staton returned to the Pop music scene to promote Honest Jons’ Candi Staton compilation of her 1969-1973 Fame recordings. It sold over 100,000 units and reached the Pop charts in England, France, the Netherlands, Japan, and Germany. There was an array of glowing reviews ranging from The New York Times to the rock magazine, Blender. London’s prestigious Guardian newspaper gave it five stars. The jazz magazine, Downbeat, hailed it a masterpiece. Since then, Staton has released two critically acclaimed Americana albums His Hands (2006) and Who’s Hurting Now? (2009). The latter won the Academie du Jazz in Paris’s Best Soul CD of the year in 2010. In 2014, Staton released, Life Happens. It debuted at #10 on Billboard’s Top Blues Albums chart and earned her appearances on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The album boasted the radio hit “I Ain’t Easy to Love” featuring Jason Isbell and John Paul White of The Civil Wars. Rolling Stone magazine hailed it as one of the 25 best country recordings of 2014.
Staton’s evergreen sound has musicians lining up to perform with her. Her 2008 collaboration “Love Sweet Sound” with British duo Groove Armada returned her to the Billboard Magazine Top Ten US Dance charts for the first time since 1980. She’s also enjoyed a huge international hit with various Top DJ remixes (Larse, Frankie Knuckles, Ashley Beedle and David Penn) of her inspirational tune “Hallelujah Anyway” that hit the pop and dance charts in Belgium, England, Germany and South Africa in 2012. Italian DJ Dr. Shiver’s “You Got the Love” remix was another Beatport Top Ten chart hit in 2015 and Staton hooked up with legendary UK DJ, Pete Tong for the first time on Tong’s sold-out “Ibiza Classics” tour in the fall of 2016.
Candi Staton bounced back from a year-long battle with breast cancer (which included chemotherapy, surgery and radiation) in 2019. Now, that she’s well, Staton is back in the recording booth with hopes to collaborate with Andy Cato & Tom Findlay of Groove Armada again and with the duo, Disclosure (known for their work with Sam Smith, Gregory Porter and Lorde), for the first time.