Curtis Mayfield

One of the first African Americans to write social commentaries, Curtis Mayfield was brought up in relative poverty in Chicago by a single mother. He taught himself guitar, developing his distinctive falsetto vocals and launched his music career in 1956 with The Roosters, which also featured Jerry Butler and evolved into The Impressions. They had one big hit with For Your Precious Love and, when Butler quit, Mayfield took over as lead singer and songwriter, writing a string of classic hits through the 1960s such as People Get Ready, Keep On Pushing and It's All Right. He was one of the first socially aware African American musicians and his songs Move On Up and Keep On Pushing became anthems of the civil rights movement. Leaving The Impressions, Mayfield became a major solo act through the 1970s, achieving further massive success with his soundtrack music to the blaxploitation movie Superfly; one of the most influential albums in African American recording history. He went on to write many more movie soundtracks as his funk style inspired a new generation of black musicians and remained a major star through the 1980s, but he was paralysed from the neck down after stage equipment fell on him at an outdoor concert in Brooklyn, New York in 1990. Incredibly, Mayfield still continued to write, sing and record, but suffered another setback when his right leg was amputated in 1998 as a result of diabetes. He died the following year.

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Stations Featuring Curtis Mayfield

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