Today, June 3, is the birthdate of Curtis Mayfield, one of the greatest musicians of all time. Born in 1942, he grew up to become a world-renowned singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer, record producer, and spokesman for the Civil Rights and Peace Movements through songs like “People Get Ready,” “Move On Up,” and “We Got To Have Peace.”
Here’s a nice tribute to him from a youtube commenter that sums up Mayfield’s accomplishments:
“Curtis Mayfield was one of the most important Soul artists for a variety of reasons that I will list here:
1. He produced, wrote, performed and released (on his own record label / publishing co) which was rare for black (or any) artists in those days (usually signed to awful record contracts paying them nothing). Curtom Records went on to release records for lots of other soul and funk artists.
2. Despite coming from a poverty stricken background and suffering extreme racism, he rose above it and always wrote and sang uplifting songs about black and white unity.
3. He fought for black civil rights and was a leading advocate of change at the forefront of the movement. He took a stand against drugs in the album “Superfly” – when others (Shaft) were glorifying The Ghetto, Mayfield used this opportunity to slam drugs in the song “Pusherman” which he aimed not only at lower class Blacks (as was the case with Shaft) but White society too.
4. His music was not just extremely catchy hitting the charts many times spanning genres from gospel, R&B, Soul, Funk and Disco. But also the lyrics were always very poignant and meaningful. He touched on some of the most controversial topics such as the war in Vietnam, black poverty and suicide (“To Be Invisible”).
I am blessed to say that I saw Curtis perform in London twice in the late 80s and early 90s just before his tragic accident.
RIP Curtis, your spirit prevails everywhere.”