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Happy Belated Birthday, Curtis Mayfield

4 Jun

I’m so glad my parents had this album when we were growing up, because  I’ve inherited it, and can play it any time I want to.  Except that I don’t have a record player, so that does pose a problem now, doesn’t it?

At the time the album, Superfly, came out in 1972, I was ten years old.  But my memories of the movie, the funky style of dress at the time that appeared on-screen, and on the streets of my hometown (Waterbury, CT), and Curtis’s falsetto voice ringing out over the soulful soundtrack, seem to be from my more mature, high school years.

Back then, being younger, and into dancing, I responded mostly to the cool sounds, but now when I read up on Curtis, I’m reminded of his great social activism, and his fight to bring awareness to black pride, the black struggle, poverty, and the effect of drugs on the black community.  I hadn’t known that Curtis had his own record company, Curtom, that produced records for other black artists (as well as put out his own albums) in order to protect them from the exploitation that often happened at other labels.  He was an entrepreneur, and a very prolific song-writer and producer.

It’s unfortunate that Curtis became paralyzed after lighting fell on him on stage at an outdoor concert in Brooklyn in 1990, which, afterward, caused a rapid decline in his health.    In 1999, Curtis was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and despite his failing health, still continued to write, record and produce music up until his death in 2001.