Why is NME writing about Mavis Staples in 2018? That’s a reasonable question, and it deserves an honest answer. We’ll get into that in a moment, but first I should say: Don’t worry, she’s not dead. Mavis Staples is alive, and despite being only a year shy of her 80th birthday she’s in such rude health that when she played the Ford Amphitheatre in Los Angeles this weekend her performance was alternately spellbinding and ass-kicking. Her voice sounded strong and pure and righteous, and she moved exuberantly around the stage and cracked jokes between songs. There is no sound on earth more joyful than Mavis Staples singing, except maybe Mavis Staples laughing.