Hello Dear (old and new) readers,
Today, I decided to take the opportunity to thank a loving & loved brother Mr. GWET BELL Bea. Thanks to him, I opened the doors of several music genres, some of which I have been sharing here and most of which are part of my favorite music library items.
One of the treasures which he offered me was “Soul Music” and some of its big names such as “Curtis Mayfield” who is the hero of this post. Indeed, roughly twelve years ago, I first listened to this epic figure.
For those who don’t know him, Mr. Curtis Mayfield was born in 1942 and sadly passed away in 1999 after a fully accomplished life. He is known to have been one of the big names of Soul Music. He is also renowned for being one of the first voices of “engaged music” amongst the Black community with his texts denouncing social issues. . As member of “The Impressions”, group in which he was lead singer and was often a writer, he published some the songs which became anthems for Black Power (We’re A Winner) and Civil Rights (Keep On Pushing) movements. As from 1970, he launched a successful Solo career which counts numerous albums.
Discovering an artist such as Curtis Mayfield can change your life perspective as long as you are willing to open your mind and heart. When I discovered him, I was indeed in the right mindset. Fresh immigrant studying in France, I was in search for more elements to portray my African/black identity. I held that fire burning inside me, a vision for a different Africa and this burning fire to see Black People conditions/perception improve wherever they were located on earth (Africans, Black Americans, etc.). Meanwhile, it is very easy to wish for change, but it is more difficult to make it happen. Listening to Curtis Mayfield was an answer.
Indeed, I believe that when listening to artists such as Mr. Mayfield or Fela Kuti (already mentioned HERE), we learn (for the least) how to value ourselves, we learn how to say “No” and slowly take back the control of the destiny of our people.
On top of the militant aspect, Curtis sings well and works out great beats & rhymes. His music is energizing, different, way different from what soul music used to produce at the time. My brother Bell Bea used to define it as “influenced music” suggesting it originated from some extraterrestrial location. And to confirm this status, a contemporary master (in my opinion) of extraterrestrial sounds, has massively used beats from Curtis Mayfield to craft his songs. I am hereby mentioning Mr. Kanye West. You may have noticed that some of his heavy hitters are tributes to the 60’s-70’s era in general ( Gold Digger” with sample from “I’ve got a woman” from Ray Charles) and Curtis Mayfield in particular (“Jesus Walks” with sample from “Don’t worry if there is hell below, we’re all gonna go ” or “Touch the Sky” with sample from the massive “Move On Up”).
The success of these songs demonstrates how contemporary Curtis’ portfolio can still be. Check out some of my favorite songs and their Kanye West’s adaptation.
Is this not master craft? Enjoy and share your feedback!
Anna KEDI SIADE ♦