Lincoln Center Concert To Honor Legacy Of Soul Icon Curtis Mayfield
Grammy Award-winning soul music singer and songwriter Curtis Mayfield would have been 70 years old this year, and Lincoln Center has enlisted a select group of stars to pay tribute to his legacy with a special concert this month. NY1's Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
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"Soul Train" couldn't get enough of Curtis Mayfield in the 1970s. The prolific songwriter was among the first wave of R&B artists to highlight the perils of the inner city from drug dealers and poverty to civil rights and civil disobedience.
Now Lincoln Center is remembering the music icon with a special tribute concert on July 20.
"What we've done is collect a number of artists, a wide range, who are influenced by this extraordinary man," says Nigel Redden, the director of the Lincoln Center Festival.
Artists like the surviving members of The Impressions will take part in the event.
Mayfield's widow, Altheida Mayfield, says her late husband was not afraid to push the envelope.
"He was a little bit before his time and sometimes Curtis wrote things that we didn't want to hear back then," she says.
Born in Chicago and raised in the notorious Cabrini Green Housing Projects, Curtis Mayfield taught himself how to play guitar and sang in falsetto register, which made him a standout.
He would go on to influence some of the biggest stars of his time, including Bob Marley and Aretha Franklin, but his family says he never lost touch with his roots.
"He never had an ego because he knew that he came from the projects and he had a chance," says Kirk Mayfield, Curtis' son.
Curtis Mayfield turned his chance into solid gold, scoring memorable movie soundtracks to films like "Superfly" and "Claudine."
Tragedy struck in 1990 when the music legend was on a Brooklyn stage and the lighting equipment collapsed, leaving Mayfield paralyzed from the neck down. He died in 1999.
But his fans and the industry continued to sing Mayfield's praises. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice and was honored with the Grammy Legend and Lifetime Achievement Award.
The concert, named "Here - But I'm Gone," will be on July 20 at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall. To learn more, visit lincolncenterfestival.org.