Curtis Mayfield

American singer-songwriter (1942–1999) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Curtis Lee Mayfield (June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer, and one of the most influential musicians behind soul and politically conscious African-American music.[5][6] Dubbed the "Gentle Genius",[7][8] he first achieved success and recognition with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted group the Impressions during the civil rights movement of the late 1950s and the 1960s, and later worked as a solo artist.

Quick facts: Curtis Mayfield, Background information, Birt...
Curtis Mayfield
Mayfield performing for Dutch television in 1972
Mayfield performing for Dutch television in 1972
Background information
Birth nameCurtis Lee Mayfield
Born(1942-06-03)June 3, 1942
Chicago, Illinois, US
DiedDecember 26, 1999(1999-12-26) (aged 57)
Roswell, Georgia, US
  • Singer-songwriter
  • guitarist
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
  • keyboards
DiscographyCurtis Mayfield discography
Years active1956–1999

Mayfield started his musical career in a gospel choir. Moving to the North Side of Chicago, he met Jerry Butler in 1956 at the age of 14, and joined the vocal group The Impressions. As a songwriter, Mayfield became noted as one of the first musicians to bring more prevalent themes of social awareness into soul music. In 1965, he wrote "People Get Ready" for The Impressions, which was ranked at no. 24 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[9] The song received numerous other awards; it was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll",[10] and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

After leaving The Impressions in 1970 in the pursuit of a solo career, Mayfield released several albums, including the soundtrack for the blaxploitation film Super Fly in 1972. The soundtrack was noted for its socially conscious themes, mostly addressing problems surrounding inner city minorities such as crime, poverty and drug abuse. The album was ranked at no. 72 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[11]

Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down after lighting equipment fell on him during a live performance at Wingate Field in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, on August 13, 1990.[12] Despite this, he continued his career as a recording artist, releasing his final album New World Order in 1996. Mayfield won a Grammy Legend Award in 1994 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995.[13] He is a double inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of The Impressions in 1991, and again in 1999 as a solo artist. He was also a two-time Grammy Hall of Fame inductee. He died from complications of type 2 diabetes at the age of 57 on December 26, 1999.[14]

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