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Song Stories

“I'll Take You There”

The Staple Singers | 1972

After attending the funeral of his little brother -- the second of two Bell brothers that were murdered -- Stax vice-president Al Bell walked to a bus in his father's back yard and thought about heavenly ascent. "I sat on the hood of that bus, thinking about my brother's death, and all of a sudden, I started hearing in my head the bass lines of 'I'll Take You There,' and I started hearing the music, and all of the words came next." He gave the song to the Staple Singers, a former gospel act that went mainstream to reach a wider audience.

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Song Stories

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

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