India Arie
Blessid Union of Souls
Tracy Chapman
Ani Difranco
Fisk Univ. Jubilee Singers
Gil Scott Heron
Ice Cube
Mason Jennings
Talib Kweli
Bob Marley
Curtis Mayfield
Prussian Blue
Public Enemy
Jill Scott
Tupac Shakur
The Band
Kanye West


8 Mile
A Time to Kill
American History X
Bend It Like Beckham
Boys Don't Cry
Gentleman's Agreement
G.I. Jane
The Green Mile
Guess Who
Hotel Rwanda
I Am Sam
Malcolm X
Mi Familia
Mississippi Burning
Out of the Ashes
Pleasantville (1)
Pleasantville (2)
Real Women Have Curves
Schindler's List
Something New
The Birth of a Nation
The Pianist
To Kill a Mockingbird


Curtis Mayfield

Curtis, originally a member of The Impressions, was more than a singer. He wrote his own original songs when this was not customary for soul performers. His themes also were original; he was among the first songwriters to discuss the struggles faced by the African American community and the need for African Americans to feel pride in themselves. Mayfield also was a very talented guitarist.

Mayfield was into gospel music before he entered the pop arena. Gospel and do-wop music influenced most of his work in the 1960s. Even then, his music featured both implicit and explicit references to black pride and focused on the growing confidence apparent within the African American community. 

Mayfield started his solo career in 1970. His first few singles had a tougher, funkier sound than his previous work. In singles like (Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Gonna Go, he talked about life in the ghetto in a very realistic way: 

                   Smoke the pill and the dope,
                   Educated fools from uneducated schools.
                   Pimping people is the rule.
                   Polluted water in the pool.
                   And everybodyís saying donít worry,
                   They say donít worry.
                   They say donít worry,
                   They say donít worry.
                   But they donít know, there can be no show,
                   And if thereís hell below weíre all gonna go.
                   Tell me what we gonna do if everything I say is try?
                   This ainít no way it ought to be, if only all the mass could see.
                   But they keep talking Ďbout donít worry,
                   They say donít worry . . .
                   (©1971 Rhino)

As a solo artist, Mayfield’s first major commercial success came with the release of Superfly. This album described the dark side of life in the ghetto, including drug deals, shootings, and death. Despite the dark themes of the songs, Mayfield’s vocals, melodies, and funk/pop arrangements created a strong, yet graceful sound.


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