many readers of this magazine the name Candi Staton (pronounced
Stay-Ton ) is synonymous with just one record, the disco anthem
'Young Hearts Run Free'. In fact Ms Staton deserves far more
respect musically and indeed in her life than just that of the
label of a disco diva.
For example the
aforementioned disco classic was written especially for her to
honour women's liberation. "In my time Women were nobody
unless they had a man. At the time I was going through a divorce
and was married to a man that was basically a pimp. I was so naive
and this song enabled me to learn that I could be anything that I
wanted to be. That is why the song was sung with so much emotion,
I really believed that for the very first time I could be free
"Staton certainly does not hold back in her assessment
of her life to date as her best selling autobiography 'This is my
story' will testify.
Whilst recovering from a
recent bout of Pneumonia she holds court to me whilst telling an
ex boy friend, a certain Al Green who is enquiring about her
health to call back, that you begin to realise that there is
a lot more to this diva than just a musical pedigree.
"I was born into
abject poverty, basically we didn't have anything to eat and at
the weekend our house was so full of drunks that any food we had
was eaten up by my father's drunken friends."
In these Southern states
of the US like so many of her contemporaries, it was the
church which gave Staton her first taste of music. Though despite
singing with greats like Aretha Franklin and having a following of
her own in her early teens, it was the pull of a fellow gospel singer
Lou Rawls that made her run away to LA at the age of 18. Recalling
the incident there appears to be no remorse when Staton cites
Lou's mother as being the one who talked them around.
"She didn't want us
to marry as she felt that Lou were too young, and that's the
reason I came back home."
One senses that it is her
new found christian belief that gives Staton the air of having no
regrets, but her return to her home environment meant a temporary
end to her musical career and a life of domestic violence,
alcoholism and drugs.
"If it wasn't for my
children I would have given up many times," is how she best
sums up her many years in the musical wilderness. Rescued from
this domestic hell by one of her brother's and soul legend
Clarence Carter she meets up with producer Rick Hall who is
looking for a replacement for Etta James for his Fame Records
label. Together with the Muscle Shoals Horns, Staton makes an
album of legendary status that was nominated as the best re-issue
of 2004 by Rolling Stone magazine when picked up by the Uk's
Honest Jon label.
Despite her new found
love of Gospel Music which she terms as "Gosco", a
combination of Gospel with a dicso beat it is her rendition of the
Fame recordings that will drive many aficionados to the gig. No
other singer shows such human suffering in her voice when she
sings. "I am the happiest now than I have ever been,"
Staton told me between gulps of the medicinal 'Chicken Soup'.
"Some things are not
planned, especially by you and the bad times give you the strength
to be where you are now." For many of you at this gig you
will be witnessing the return to the UK in a special one-off show
of an enormous talent and also one of life's true survivors.