Mavis Staples, New York City, 2007 Photo by Frank Beacham Mavis Staples is 84 years old today. Staples is a rhythm and blues and gospel singer, actress and civil rights activist who recorded with The Staple Singers, her family's band. Staples began her career with her family group in 1950. Initially singing locally at churches and appearing on a weekly radio show, the Staples scored a hit in 1956 with "Uncloudy Day" for the Vee-Jay label. When Mavis graduated from what is now Paul Robeson High School in 1957, The Staple Singers took their music on the road.