Even today Mavis Staples likes to say that her father Roebuck “Pops” Staples believed that singers could take the church songs to the clubs because the club people weren’t coming to church, and vice versa.
“Wade in the Water” came from the traditional spiritual songbook and was a coded song sung to tell runaway slaves that they should travel in the water to throw dogs off their scent. The song easily made the transition to the Top 40 in the 1960s and was used in a signature dance by Alvin Ailey.
This continues a survey of songs of the Civil Rights era, leading up to the dedication of the Rev. Martin L. King, Jr. memorial on August 28.
Here are the Staple Singers: