Mavis Staples, the classic soul and gospel singer from Chicago, and Joan Osborne, who’s had a soulful career of her own, combine their musical resources for the “Solid Soul” tour.
Running through November, the tour began Sept. 25 at The Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco. Sunday, it reaches the Manship Theatre in Baton Rouge.
Osborne doesn’t know whose idea the “Solid Soul” tour was, but she’s thrilled about sharing the stage with one of her inspirations, the 76-year-old Staples.
In the early 1990s, when Kentucky native Osborne was an aspiring young singer in New York City, she emulated Otis Redding, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Billie Holiday and Staples.
For decades, Staples was a member of The Staple Singers, the family group that, after being a mighty voice for the civil rights moment in the 1960s, released the gospel-infused pop hits “I’ll Take You There” and Respect Yourself” in 1972.
Osborne, a seven-time Grammy nominee, became a household name in 1995 when her plaintive hit, “One of Us,” entered Billboard’s Top 5 pop singles chart.
In its 20th anniversary year, “Relish,” the album that features “One of Us,” is being reissued Oct. 30 in three formats, including a double-LP vinyl package.
Osborne is performing “One of Us” during the “Solid Soul” tour, in part because Staples told her she loved the song the first time she heard it.
Staples and Osborne met nearly 15 years ago at a Bonnie Raitt concert in Chicago. When Osborne went backstage to visit Raitt, she saw Staples in the dressing room.
“I was so excited to meet Mavis,” Osborne said.
In the succeeding years, the singers saw each other a handful of times at benefits and all-star tributes they participated in. The “Solid Soul” tour is the first time they’ve appeared together in a conventional concert setting.
“[Staples is] an incredibly warm and joyful person,” Osborne said. “It’s been a blessing to spend time with her.”
Mutual friend Raitt joined Staples and Osborne in San Francisco for the inaugural “Solid Soul” tour show. The three of them perform performed “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?”
“To stand next to Mavis on stage and watch her do what she does is a joy,” Osborne said. “And then to have Bonnie Raitt play and sing with us, that was a thrill. I’ve been blessed with some wonderful moments on stage during my career, but that will go down as one of my favorite moments.”
The all-star trio at The Fillmore followed Osborne’s many other stellar collaborations. Osborne joined members of The Grateful Dead when they regrouped in 2003 as The Dead. She sang with the Motown Record session musicians known as The Funk Brothers in the documentary, “Standing in the Shadows of Motown.” She’s also appeared with Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Luciano Pavarotti, Emmylou Harris and Taj Mahal.
“I’ve been fortunate to be welcomed into so many different musical arenas over the years,” Osborne said. “And Mavis, she’s a force of nature. She gets people up on their feet and cheering. For me, it’s wonderful to be on the side of the stage and then go out and join Mavis. The audiences obviously feel like they’re witnessing something special. It’s been a love fest every night.”