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Where Are They Now: Curtis Mayfield

The Chicago soul star made a big impression with “People Get Ready” and “It’s All Right”

Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield, 1960

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Singer, songwriter, producer and label owner Curtis Mayfield had a profound impact on soul and pop music during the Sixties and Seventies.

His work with the Impressions, an R&B vocal group, was at the forefront of the Chicago sound — a blend of urban and blues sensibilities that rivaled Motown in the early- to mid-Sixties.

Mayfield wrote, produced or sang such hits as ”He Will Break Your Heart,” ”It’s All Right” and ”People Get Ready.” Throughout the Seventies, Mayfield pursued his solo work, which reached a high point with his soundtrack to the movie Superfly. But his career ran into a snag a couple of years ago when Boardwalk, the label to which he was signed, went bankrupt. ”I got caught up in the termination of that company, trying to get my contract and all cleared away,” Mayfield says.

As a result, he stopped recording until recently. He has just released a new album, We Come in Peace with a Message of Love, on his own label. Now 43, the Chicago native moved his family (he has six children) and his Curtom Recording Studio to Atlanta six years ago. ”Music was sort of drying up in Chicago,” he says. ”All the musicians moved to either L.A., New York or Philly. The cold weather moves you out. I always adored Atlanta. I had a place here that I’d come down to and do a lot of writing.”

Mayfield joined the Impressions on a 1983 reunion tour and has been contemplating recording with the group again. ”Sam [Gooden] and Fred [Cash] live right over the next state, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and seeing that I have the studio here, we’ve been talking about putting things together.”

In This Article: Coverwall, Curtis Mayfield

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