Though her new freedom songs have not changed American politics, they are very much in time with the dramatic changes on the horizon, and they still tell the truth. "I saw New Orleans, saw the people left for dead," she sings on the self-penned "My Own Eyes." "I've heard every bald-faced lie you politicians said." So with all that Mavis Staples has seen, all that she and her music have stood for, you'll forgive her if her hope, which is as real as her voice, is tempered with honest skepticism.

"Now I listen to Obama," she says. "He's a very good speaker. Now I wouldn't just vote for him because he's black. I have to believe that he will deal with the issues. I listen to one of his speeches, I think: 'Wow, that was great.' Then, the next time I see him, he's acting a little cocky! So I am going to take my time with him."

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