Let us tell you a story about a family, brothers Edward and A.R.C. Brown and their sister Annie Brown Caldwell.
Back in the early 1970s, the Browns decided to start a band. They were just kids at the time, and they called themselves the Staples Jr. Singers because they loved the Staple Singers so much. They got their start playing school talent shows, local churches, and front yards near their hometown, Aberdeen, Mississippi.
In 1975, the Browns got the chance to record together—Annie was only 14 at the time, A.R.C. was 15, and Edward was 16. By then, their 10-year-old brother Ronnel Brown (1964-2011) had also joined the band; he was finally big enough to hold the bass on his own. They recorded it in Tupelo, Mississippi, at a now long gone recording studio run by someone known as Big John.
They called it When Do We Get Paid.
It was their first and only full-length album, and in the last 40 years it’s become an exceedingly rare record—they only made a handful of copies, which they sold themselves at shows and on the front lawn of their childhood home.
Their songs—all of them stone cold soul—carried socially conscious messages about what they saw happening in the South: the struggles of the Black community, the backlash after desegregation, Civil Rights.
“Well, life, it wasn’t too easy back then,” said Edward, who’s 63 now. “You know, it was hard.”
For the last 40 years, the family—now four generations, and counting!—has kept performing at local churches and events, but always under different band names, until now. This spring, we’re rereleasing 1975’s When Do We Get Paid and bringing the Staples Jr. Singers back together again, just for you. You can pre-order your copy here.
While Annie, Edward, and A.R.C. have written an entire catalog since When Do We Get Paid, they still believe these songs, with their incantatory funk and messages of social justice, hold the power to help make a way out of no way.
“I can be a witness,” Annie told us. “These are the songs that are really going to take us over.”