After working long-distance on the Prince-produced album Time Waits for No One, Mavis Staples and Prince had the opportunity to work closely together in the studio at Paisley Park for her 1993 album The Voice. Many of the lyrics Prince wrote for the record were inspired by lengthy letters that Mavis would send him to explain her upbringing and early life, with songs like "The Undertaker" and "Blood is Thicker Than Time" pulling directly from the themes of her letters.
Each one of those songs is me. That album is about the life of Mavis.”
Mavis Staples, 1997
The Voice was recorded at Prince's Paisley Park studios over the course of several years, with the earliest recording, "Melody Cool," taking place in the late 1980s. (The song first appeared on the soundtrack for 1990's Graffiti Bridge). Other recordings were completed closer to the album's release on August 24, 1993.
Oh, Lord, working with Prince was beautiful. We’d stay up all night singing and I would leave Paisley Park in the morning. One day, I asked him when he sleeps. He said, ‘Mavis, sleeping is a waste of time.’ I said, ‘OK, well I’m going to waste some time — I’ll see you later!'”
Mavis Staples, NY Post, 2016
The Voice Album Credits
Mavis Staples vocals Prince various instruments Levi Seacer, Jr. guitar, bass, vocals Rosie Gaines keyboard, vocals Kirk Johnson vocals, keyboards Tony M. vocals Michael B. drums St. Paul Peterson bass, guitar Tommy Barbarella keyboards Ricky Peterson organ, keyboards, bass, drum programming Eric Leeds saxophone The Steeles (Jevetta Steele, Fred Steele, JD Steele, Jearlyn Steele, Janice Steele) vocals Billy Franze guitar David Barry guitar Pops Staples vocals Sonny T. bass guitar The Hornheads (Brian Gallagher, Dave Jensen, Kathy Jensen, Michael Nelson, Steve Strand) horns Candy Dulfer saxophone Margie Cox background vocals Sheila E. background vocals Miko Weaver guitar Boni Boyer keyboards Dr. Fink keyboards