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Robert Fontenot

Eldest of the Staple Singers Siblings Dies

By February 25, 2013

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Cleotha Staples, eldest of the children in the Staple Singers gospel/R&B group founded by Roebuck "Pops" Staples in 1948, has died at the age of 78. The family vocal quintet, which became famous in the '50s for gospel standards like "On My Way to Heaven" and "Uncloudy Day," signed to the Stax label in the late '60s and produced several classic soul hits, including "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There." The daughter known as "Cleedi" was the basis for the group's harmonies, with her vocals occupying the highest range and serving as inspiration for Pops' celebrated guitar. Collectively, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has received a Lifetime Achievement Award, but has not performed since their patriarch's death in 2000. Cleotha, unfortunately, had been suffering from the effects of Alzheimer's over the last decade, but was taken care of by her sisters Mavis and Yvonne, who lived near her in the family's base on the South Side of Chicago.

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