26.12.19

Curtis Mayfield 20th Anniversary

Eddie Thomas (co-founder of Curtom)
Welcome to this special Blog only edition of The Science of Soul. In 1993 Mickey Nold suggested I should write a radio series about Curtis Mayfield, and looking back I'm so glad he did. When finished it was originally broadcast on PCRL radio in Birmingham, UK over six episodes the story covers the career of one of the most influential artists of our time, Curtis was more than just music, his song writing was historical statements of America at that time which the whole world could see "Choice of Colours," "We're a Winner" and the like we're bold statements in a deeply segregated country. It's been 20 years ago today since Curtis passed but his vision lives on, so sit back and enjoy the music of Curtis Mayfield..Also included on this blog is an interview I recorded with Curtis III, his eldest son who is a very close friend and carries many of his fathers traits, a fine man with the vision of his father.


Curtis III (Mayfiield's son)
Receiving an award for Curtis

When I look back over my life, music has been the one constant feature present. I would miss lunch to save the money to spend on records (if my Mom had known, I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale, lol!)

I would make the trip from school to Norgroves electrical shop every Tuesday and Friday lunch time, to see what new records they had - I would then spend all the lunch money I had saved and still not get all the discs I wanted - they must have thought I was a strange 12-year-old kid, bless their hearts! They used to give me as much as I bought; they could see the struggle I went through each time, deciding what to buy with what little money (financial resources) I had - they knew I was hooked on soul music before I did!


"Mayfield was a big influence on my songwriting and vocal style. From his early days as the lead singer of the Impressions.. I marvelled at his ability to get hit records with spiritual lyric content like "People Get Ready" and "Amen". No other secular artist at that time was anywhere near successful as Curtis at using God's word to influence young people. I remember James Brown saying that if not for Curtis...there would not have been records like..."Say It Loud.. I'm Black and I'm Proud". Which became James Brown's contribution for the black civil rights movement of the sixties"  Billy Griffin


The 1965 His Masters Voice EP
Then one day they gave me something that changed my life: it was an EP and I remember John in the shop saying, “This looks like something you would like” It was Soulfully by The Impressions - I heard Curtis Mayfield for the first time, and from that moment on life was never quite the same. From Curtis and the Impressions’ music I learned the beauty of love, I learned of the injustices many faced in society and man’s struggle to create a better world in spite of himself. To quote a line from one of his songs “He opened up my eyes so I might see” - his songs helped me see and understand so much that 45 years later his music is still a source of comfort to me. I had a chance to know Curtis, and his humility touched me very deeply; his gentle and warm smile, how he would start a sentence by saying “well you know…” - these things are fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday.

   "Curtis Mayfield was brilliant at making you look inward while enjoying the journey musically. People hate looking inward, so you can’t imagine how challenging it is for a writer to inspire that in someone while wrapping it in timeless melodies. It make sense why he’s a legend”  Marcell Russell

 Please forgive my ramblings, I just wanted to give a glimpse of what Curtis Mayfield means to me. A thought popped into my head one day; imagine what it would have been like to be Curtis Mayfield’s son. The interview here gives you a glimpse of that. Curtis’s eldest son, Curtis Mayfield III, kindly agreed to talk to me about just that. I thank him for his friendship and for sharing his thoughts with me so openly and freely . CIII is a man at peace with himself and a legacy left by his father. He has made his own way in the world; you would expect nothing less from a man who carries the name of his father so proudly. All that’s left to say is “people get ready” sit back, and enjoy…

  "As a young musician, I was impressed and influenced by the songwriting and musicianship of Curtis Mayfield. Songs like "I'm So Proud" and "People Get Ready" were songs that every singing group would rehearse to test how good their harmonies were. He was a big influence on me then and still is to this day." Chris Jasper


  "I Grew From James Brown To Curtis Mayfield" in Life and my stage persona !!!  Joe 'Pep' Harris (Undisputed Truth)

Songs featured in the program:
  • The Impressions - People Get Ready
  • We People Who Are Darker Than Blue
  • Move On Up
  • The Makings Of You
  • Superfly
  • Little Child Running Wild
  • Curtis Mayfield III - Soldier In The Sand
  • Back To The World
  • To Be Invisible
  • Curtis Mayfield III - Girl From 1-2-3
  • The Impressions - This Is My Country
  • (Don't Worry) If There Is A Hell Below, We're All Going To Go
  • Oh So Beautiful



Curtis Jr., in Chicago, USA

Satellite Link
Bill in  Birminham, UK




  "My time playing with Curtis, "priceless". Hard to top travelling and preforming all over the world with a true legend. And he was easy to play for. He had certain things he wanted to hear but I had a lot of freedom to be myself within the music.

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