Chicago Tribune

Mavis Staples is history. Jamila Woods is making history. How new music from two Chicago artists remind us that 'progress is a process'

CHICAGO - "Bullets flying, mothers crying ... What good is freedom if we haven't learned to be free," Mavis Staples sings at the outset of her new album, "We Get By" (Anti).

It's a tough-as-nails gospel-blues, written by producer Ben Harper, that voices a central tenet of the singer's 70-year music career: the lessons and sacrifices made over the centuries in the name of equality will be in vain if future generations don't learn from them.

"People forget the history or some don't know it at all, that's why I have to be the history," says Staples, who turns 80, in July. She

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