Down across the railroad tracks, on a narrow road called Church Street in West Point, Mississippi, there’s a windowless brick building that’s been converted into a house of worship called The Message Center. It belongs to the neighborhood when it isn’t being used for services or bible study. One chilly January morning, the original members of a little-known gospel group from Aberdeen, Mississippi, called the Staples Jr. Singers gathered there to play some of their early songs for the first time in nearly 50 years.
Who are the Staples Jr. Singers, and why do they share a name with that other gospel group you might have heard of, the ones who famously crossed over? When the Jr. Singers were still kids in the 1970s, excited audiences would flock to them after shows, telling them, “Y’all sound like the Staple Singers, y’all should call yourselves the little Staple Jr. Singers!” And so they did.
The musical family behind the Staples Jr. Singers, the Browns, are now going on four generations—and while they still regularly play together, they rarely perform these songs, which they wrote when they were teenagers.
Here, the original three Staples Jr. Singers, Annie, Edward, and R.C., are joined by the new vanguard: their children—with R.C.'s grandson Jaylin on the drums, Edward’s son Troy on vocals, Annie’s husband Willie (a.k.a. Joe) on guitar, and their son Willie (a.k.a. Junior) on bass (their son Abel was also in the room that day, recording and producing). Many of these songs first appeared on their only full-length release in 1975, When Do We Get Paid (Luaka Bop, 2022), but none have been revisited—until now.
A1 When Do We Get Paid (in Full) 20:16
B1 Somebody Save Me 3:56
B2 I'm Looking for a Man 3:28
B3 Tell Heaven 4:02
Edward Brown, vocals
Annie Brown Caldwell, vocals
Arceola Brown, guitar and vocals
Troy Brown, vocals
Willie Joe Caldwell, guitar
Willie Caldwell Jr., bass
Jaylin Brown, drums
Produced and recorded by Abel Caldwell
Mixed by Ray Lynch
Mastered by Darren Golda
Designed by Paul “diddy wah” Diddy
Institutional voice by Eliza Grace Martin
Produced by Yale Evelev and Eric Welles-Nyström
Recorded on location at The Message Center in West Point, Mississippi, January 8, 2022.
Special thanks to Romi Crawford and the Richard Gray Gallery family, Daniel Fox, Maura James McNamara, Madeleine Sturma, and the Brown and Caldwell families.