Alley GatorPoster topBLOGArticles and CommentsSongsTimelinePlaylistsAlbumsDatabaseAlbum ListsArtistsPantheonArtist ListsResourcesBits and PiecesTips & AdviceBooks & Websites

Comments - Artists

Alley Gator says:
09/06/12 8:48 pm
Curtis Mayfield was universally loved and admired for his anthemic songwriting, beautiful singing, and heroic social activism. I can only scratch the surface here. Start with Wikipedia if you want to dig deeper.

Curtis came to prominence in the early 1960s as the songwriter and lead singer of The Impressions. With a distinctive social consciousness, he was one of the earliest African-American R&B performers to write "message music." His titles included "People Get Ready," "Keep On Pushing," and "We're A Winner" with the Impressions and "Move On Up" and "Freddie's Dead" as a solo artist. Because he not only wrote great songs but also sang them with a unique blend of intimacy and passion, Curtis Mayfield became a major figure in both the civil rights and black pride movements.

Curtis was a prolific songwriter in Chicago, also writing and producing a slew of hits for artists other than The Impressions. He founded the independent label Curtom Records in 1968 and went solo in 1970. My favorite album of his was his first solo album, Curtis, which kicked off the socially conscious, funky style of soul music so popular in the early 1970s. His soundtrack for the 1972 film Superfly was the commercial and critical peak of his career.

Tragically, Curtis was paralyzed from the neck down in a freak accident at an outdoor concert in 1990. By the time of his death in 1999 he had received all the accolades, awards, and recognition he so richly deserved.

(Curtis Mayfield was our Featured Artist for three weeks beginning September 7, 2012.)
Murgatroyd says:
09/07/12 3:20 pm
Oh, good god, yes. The more I hear, the more there is to love from the man. One thing that is desperately needed is a compilation of all his production work. Perhaps because his own voice was so high, he was an expert at providing ideal settings for female vocalists. For example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBwyQOBPT7U. His work as a producer runs DEEP.

Besides his stellar songwriting and beautiful singing, he is firmly in the pantheon of great soul/R&B arrangers, right next to Isaac Hayes. Got To Find A Way is a hidden gem in his catalog - I highly recommend checking it out if you're not familiar. Cheers.
jere1911 says:
09/07/12 7:42 pm

In the heyday of the Impressions, Curtis and his group were certainly part of my personal pantheon. The messages in songs like "Keep on Pushing" and "People Get Ready" meant a great deal to all of us who believed deeply (and tried to play some small part) in that revolution we call the Civil Rights Movement. But all that aside, they were just great songs performed with musical "truth" by that mellow-toned, beautiful voice. Aside from the two songs mentioned, my favorite was "Gypsy Woman". Thanks Gator for reminding me of how much I loved those performances. Smooth as silk, they were, gently grabbing the heart. And I recall seeing The Impressions live, too, in NYC as part of a great, multi-act stage show. I'm off to buy the greatest hits CD!
cornercat says:
09/20/12 10:57 pm
In addition to his singing, songwriting, and arranging, Curtis Mayfield is also on the very "short list" of all time most-influential guitarists. His playing was the perfect complement to his singing. His melodic, tasteful, introductions, fills, and interludes were priceless gems. To this day it is easy to hear his influence and his "licks" on current recordings. He was a major influence on all the great guitar players of his day as well. Hendrix's famous tribute to Mayfield's guitar style, "Little Wing," remains one of my all time favorites.
Murgatroyd says:
09/28/12 9:39 am
cornercat said: In addition to his singing, songwriting, and arranging, Curtis Mayfield is also on the very "short list" of all time most-influential guitarists. His playing was the perfect complement to his singing. His melodic, tasteful, introductions, fills, and interludes were priceless gems. To this day it is easy to hear his influence and his "licks" on current recordings. He was a major influence on all the great guitar players of his day as well. Hendrix's famous tribute to Mayfield's guitar style, "Little Wing," remains one of my all time favorites.
Indeed, cornercat, indeed! The title track of Electric Ladyland was also a beautiful Mayfield tribute from Jimi.