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Arts > Music > Soul > 20th century > USA > Curtis Lee Mayfield    1942-1999




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

The Roosters

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).''


Beyond lyrics,

Mr. Mayfield

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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