Rolling Stone counts him among the 100 best artists—and what an artist he was. Curtis Mayfield may be virtually unknown to a younger generation but will be a profound musical discovery for anyone looking for brilliant musicology, superb instrumentation, and lyrics and a voice that are universally human and yet totally personal.
Mayfield wrote the song “People Get Ready” in 1965 while he was with the music group the Impressions, and it is still counted among the best songs ever written. The song even features in the National Recording Registry—a collection of sound recordings worthy of preservation selected for their “cultural, historic, or artistic significance.”
As a representative of Progressive Soul and Rhythm & Blues, Mayfield was one of the major voices of the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose memorial day we observe this week, regarded our Music of the Week pick as one of the movement’s major marching songs.
The hit song also contains one of the all-time greatest guitar solos (according to Rolling Stone), and provides something like a compilation of many of the musical and artistic elements that became hallmarks of Mayfield’s superb music.
Curtis Mayfield became paralyzed from the neck down when stage equipment fell and hit him at a 1990 concert. He continued to compose and record until his death in 1999, his last album being entitled The New World Order.
Time for some Curtis Mayfield music.
Curtis Mayfield on Wikipedia
Curtis Mayfield – Influential Soul
Curtis Mayfield, a socially conscious singer and composer