Beaujolais nouveau is all very well, but if you want fine wine check out the Sweetheart of Soul, Candi Staton. A veteran of both the gospel and the disco scene, her career rides roughshod over the notion of a sacred/secular divide. She?s just recorded a non-gospel album. “There will be some religious folk that will come against me?, she tells us. ?They?ll be disappointed maybe that I’m singing love songs. But I call them life songs. Just because you go to church you’re not alienated from life.” We say amen to that.
Raised in Alabama in a farming family, Candi first appeared with the Jewel Gospel Trio, during which time she shared a stage with the Staple Singers and Aretha Franklin. But all was not sweetness and light. “We were taken advantage of and I left because of the misuse,” she says. After a career break, come the 70s Candi reappeared as a disco diva, scoring a hit with Young Hearts Run Free – a version of which would later end up in on the soundtrack of the Leo de Caprio flick Romeo + Juliet.
The eighties saw a return to church, and gospel. Her first album of the decade, “Make Me An Instrument” won her a Grammy nomination, and she went on to record a dozen more gospel records.
In 1991 Candi became a darling of the British rave scene as a bootleg of a song she recorded in 1986 – You Got The Love – was remixed and became a Top Ten British hit, selling two million copies.
On her latest release – His Hands – Candi covers Dolly Parton and Will Oldham, among others. According to Candi the title track is ?kind of a gospel song and it’s kind of not…It starts out telling you about a normal, natural man and what he would do to you in an abusive situation…I’ve lived through every line of that song.” Some singers give you second-hand emotion; Candi Staton gives it to you first hand.