published Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Eldest sibling in influential gospel group The Staples Singers dies

This March 15, 1999 file photo shows the sibling group The Staples Singers, from left, Pervis, Cleotha, Pops, Mavis and Yvonne at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York.
This March 15, 1999 file photo shows the sibling group The Staples Singers, from left, Pervis, Cleotha, Pops, Mavis and Yvonne at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in New York.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

CHICAGO — Cleotha Staples, the eldest sibling in the highly influential gospel group The Staples Singers, has died. She was 78.

Staples family friend and music publicist Bill Carpenter says Staples died Thursday at her Chicago home after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for the last decade.

The Staples Singers began as a way for Roebuck “Pops” Staples to entertain his family, which included five children — Cleotha, known as “Cleedi,” Pervis, Yvonne, Mavis and Cynthia. He taught the children gospel songs and accompanied them on his guitar. Two decades later they became unlikely hit makers for the Stax label.

Staples was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with her family in 1999 and received a lifetime achievement award from the Grammys in 2005.

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