Funeral services for songbird Cleotha Staples will be at 10 a.m. March 1 at Trinity United Church of Christ, 400 W. 95th St.
Cleotha, the eldest member of the Chicago-based Staple Singers singing group died Feb. 20 in her south side home. She was 78. She had suffered from Alzheimer's Disease for 12 years .
Visitation will be at 6 p.m. Feb. 28 at Leak & Sons Funeral Home, 7838 S. Cottage Grove. [(773) 846-6567] Burial will be at Oak Woods Cemetery, 1035 E. 67th, the resting place of her father Roebuck "Pops" Staples, who died in 2000.
Although she had been inactive from touring for many years, Cleotha's imprint was always part of the group musically and spiritually. She sang on the group's first hit, 1957's "Uncloudy Day" recorded for Vee-Jay Records in Chicago as well as the family's best known hits for Stax: "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There." One of her final recordings with Pops was the groups' edgy 1984 cover of the Talking Heads "Slippery People."
In an e-mail over the weekend Mavis Staples recalled one of the favorite stories of her beloved sister:
"Pops left Cleedie in a service station," she wrote. "We all got out of the car while she was sleeping. Meanwhile Cleedie awoke and went in (the station). We all thought she was still under the coats sleeping. Pops decided to put her favorite record on. In the car we had a little '45 record player. He wanted to wake her up. After she didn't wake up we noticed she was not with us."
Mavis figured the family had driven about 40 miles. Mavis hipped Pops to the fact they probably left Cleedie behind.
"He turned around and was speeding so fast, the police stopped him," Mavis wrote. "Right away he told the police he didn't have time, he had left his daughter at the service station. The policeman led us back to the service station. When we got back Cleedi was standing IN the door with a head full of pink rollers in her hair and wearing her house slippers. Pops told the story at the program that night. Big laugh from the audience. Of course, Yvonne (sister) and I cracked up all the way to wherever we were going."
Cleotha's favorite record?
The Williams Brothers 1969 gospel hit "Sweep Around Your Own Front Door."