This guest post is by Tom Cooney of a.tom.called.cooney.

Born in Chicago in 1942, Curtis Mayfield grew up in the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects.  In search of a way out of the ghetto, he dropped out of high school, taught himself how to play guitar and eventually became the lead singer and songwriter for The Impressions.  After leaving The Impressions in 1970s, he began a very successful solo career blending his falsetto vocals with artistic medleys and funky bass grooves.   Curtis was one of the first mainstream musicians who delivered a political message through his music, which is evident in “Move On Up”.  The peak of his musical career came with the release of “Super Fly“, the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film if the same name.

Tragically, Mayfield was injured in 1980 after stage lighting fell on him during an outdoor concert in Brooklyn, which left him paralyzed from the neck down.  Curtis eventually died in December 1999 from his subsequent declining health.

Mayfield’s music has left a lasting impression on hip-hop as he has been sampled by artists such as; EPMD, N.W.A., Pete Rock, Notorious B.I.G., Kanye West and 9th Wonder to name a few.

I have always been fascinated by Curtis Mayfield’s voice, which is arguably the most recognizable falsetto of all time (sorry Aaron Neville).  Songs such as “The Makings of You“, “Freddie’s Dead“, “So In Love“, and “Pusherman” remind me of the true beauty of music.




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