She talks about the time she met David Bowie – her relationship with Bob Dylan and her love of Pharrell Williams’s Happy.
But it is David Bowie that she is desperate to talk about today – surprisingly.
‘I’ve been thinking of him.
He was the ultimate gentleman and musician.
I was opening for Prince when he came into the dressing room and said: ‘There she is, that beautiful lady’ and oh, I just melted!’
She can’t countenance that Bowie might have been excited to meet her.
‘You just don’t think that certain people know you – you know?
To remember him holding my hand … I did not sleep that night!’
Humility runs like a thread through Staples’ career.
She was born in Chicago in 1939; her father Roebuck known as Pops – grew up on a Mississippi plantation learning guitar from delta blues legend Charley Patton before forming the family band.
Mavis was called Bubbles by her mum on account of her cheeriness – a fact one of her new collaborators New Orleans singer-songwriter Benjamin Booker has snuck on to her new album’s opening track Take Us Back (‘They don’t call me Bubbles for nothing’ Mavis rasps brilliantly).
By 13 Mavis was out on the road getting extra homework for missing school on Mondays (she’d be singing at churches on Sundays).
It was wonderful she insists.
‘It wasn’t like the Jackson 5 and poor Michael – I didn’t miss my youth.
We’d rehearse at home and then I’d go out to jump rope if it was summertime.
I didn’t miss my prom neither!’
Staples also loved ‘ordering room service as a kid – although I’d call down and the lady would say ‘Yes Mr Staples’ because of my voice’.
That voice had many fans though – as well as Bowie and Prince there was Bob Dylan.
‘It was the most mysterious thing I’d ever heard’ he told AARP Magazine of Uncloudy Day as recently as last year.
He first heard the Staple Singers on the radio in 1953 and has often mentioned their influence on him ever since.
‘It was like the fog rolling in … I knew who Mavis was without having to be told. Her singing just knocked me out’.
‘Bobby would always say: ‘Pops has a velvety voice but Mavis get rough sometimes’ Staples says.
It’s a line she has used in previous interviews but they did ‘court awhile’ after meeting on a TV show in New York in the early 60s.
‘We would write letters back and forth because we wouldn’t see each other until we were on a festival together’ she adds.
‘And we’d smooch!’
Dylan also proposed to her but Staples turned him down feeling she was too young.
They’ve stayed in touch through the years duetting on the gospel song Gonna Change My Way of Thinking on Dylan’s 1979 album Slow Train Coming; they last physically met in 2002.
‘I often think about what would have happened if I’d married Bobby though’ she says.
‘If we’d had some little plum-crushers how our lives would be.
The kids would be singing now and Bobby and I would be holding each other up’.