Born June 3, 1942, Curtis Mayfield grew up as a part of a single parent, seven member family in a small apartment in the infamous Cabrini-Green housing projects of Chicago’s North Side. Mayfield first sang in his grandmother’s Traveling Soul Spiritualists’ Church at age 7, where he obtained his lifelong appreciation of black gospel music. He also loved the electric blues music he heard flourishing around him in Chicago. Completing the circle of Mayfield’s talent was his mother’s enthusiasm for poetry, which he inherited and turned into some very memorable song lyrics.Mayfield, a self-taught guitarist, had a very distinctive approach to his playing that many people equated with the way one plays a piano. His tenor voice and especially his falsetto, made Mayfield a remarkable singer as well as a songwriter and instrumentalist.
Although Mayfield is probably best-remembered for his popular hit, "Super Fly", it was the rich emotional beauty and Gospel flavor of hit songs like, "People Get Ready" (Later recorded by Rod Stewart and chosen as one of the 300 Most Important Recordings of the 20th Century by NPR.) that made Curtis Mayfield a great American talent and spirit.
Curtis Mayfield died on December 26, 1999.