Legendary singer Curtis Mayfield
is among the artists celebrated in “Chicago’s Golden Soul”
at Black Ensemble Theatre.
Curtis Lee Mayfield 1942-1999
Born in Chicago
on 3 June 1942,
he was 14
when he formed The Roosters
with Arthur and Richard Brooks
and Jerry Butler.
Four years later
became The Impressions
and their single,
For Your Precious Love,
went to number 11 in the US.
Other hits followed
including Gypsy Woman,
Find Yourself Another Girl
and He Will Break Your Heart.
Mayfield became known
as a civil rights hero
as well as a respected entertainer;
1964's Keep On Pushing
is credited with broadening
the parameters of black music
to include a political perspective,
at a time when it was dominated
by love songs and dance records.
He is credited with opening the way
for James Brown to sing Say It Loud
- I'm Black And I'm Proud in 1968
and Marvin Gaye's 1971 hit
What's Going On.
As a member
of the group the Impressions
in the 50's and 60's
and as a solo act in the 70's,
Mr. Mayfield imbued his songs
with messages of love, optimism,
unity, faith and self-awareness.
He stood out from his contemporaries
by bravely, intelligently and passionately
delving into racial and political issues
in powerful and prophetic songs
like ''We People Who Are Darker Than Blue''
and ''Mighty Mighty (Spade and Whitey).''
was a funk and rap pioneer,
laying down grooves full of bongos,
bass, horns and wah-wah guitar
that took on a new life
when acts in the 80's and 90's,
like Ice-T, Mary J. Blige
and Digable Planets,
began sampling his music.
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