Staple Singer member Cleotha Staples died February 21 in her Chicago home at the age of 78. The eldest member of the family singing group had been battlting Alzheimer's Disease for the past 10 years.
Cleotha was born April 11, 1934 in Drew, Mississippi to sharecropper parents. Her father Roebuck moved the family to Chicago when Cheotha was still a toddler where brother Pervis and sisters Yvonne, Mavis, and Cynthia were born.
“Pops” began teaching his children to sing and in 1948 the young family of singers began to sing in local Chicago churchs. The group recorded their first album in 1952 with Cleotha holding down the role of soprano. While they began as a predominantly a Gospel group, they later crossed over into R&B, Soul, and Pop msic singing what was stermed “message music”.
As a member of the Staple Singers, Cleotha had eight top 40 hits including “Respect Yourself”, “I'll Take You There”, “Let's Do it Again”.
The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and in 2005 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy – Grammy.
Cleotha is predeceased by her father “Pops” and is survived by her brother and sisters.