Lots I didn’t know about Curtis Mayfield–like he wrote some of the most inspirational songs used by the civil rights movement and later the black power movement; he rose above poverty and racism to embrace good will for all; he became disabled; his greatest work, the music for ‘Super Fly‘, is actually unlike the film, opposite to it in fact, and it ‘influenced many and truly invented a new style of modern black music.’
Mayfield was born in 1942 in Chicago. His father left when he was five and he grew up poor and very black in a very racist country. Though thugs and drugs were all around, he escaped and dropped out of high school to write songs, play guitar, and sing lead with The Impressions. During the sixties they had several R&B and pop hits and influenced many, including Bob Marley and the Wailers, with their harmonies and social consciousness. Their hits by Mayfield included Keep On Pushing (‘one of the main anthems of the Civil Rights Movement’), People Get Ready, We’re A Winner, and Choice Of Colors.
gentle singing, hard-hitting lyrics
Mayfield went solo in 1970. Two years later he recorded the soundtrack to Super Fly. His ‘lyrics consisted of hard-hitting commentary on the state of affairs in black, urban ghettos at the time…. Along with Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On  and Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions , this album ushered in a new socially conscious, funky style of popular soul music.’ songs included Pusherman, Little Child Running Wild, Freddie’s Dead, Give Me Your Love, and Super Fly. ‘On August 13, 1990, Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down after stage lighting equipment fell on him [crushing his spine in three places]…. He was unable to play guitar, but he wrote, sang [lying down], and directed the recording of his last album, New World Order .’ He died in 1999 in Roswell, Georgia of diabetes after nearly a decade of paralysis.
In the forward to Staying Alive by Vandana Shiva (1988), Rajni Kothari (pictured in 2002) observes a ‘shift from the modernist, competitive and “catching up” orientation of the first generation of feminists to a much more holistic, nurturant and non-dualistic perspective is beginning to emerge.’
He adds that ‘Vandana Shiva [pictured] is interested in deeper meanings of femininity and Prakriti and in asserting these as far more humane and natural than the dominant ‘scientific’ paradigm which is essentially macho in its conception.’