Saturday, January 7, 2017

An Influential Life

Traveling Soul: The Life of Curtis Mayfield – Todd Mayfield and Travis Atria (Chicago Review Press)

Like clockwork, every year the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame announces their list of nominees for a place in their allegedly prestigious confines and each year fans try to make the case why their favorites are deserving of a place in the Cleveland based edifice, with some going away broken-hearted and downright mad.

It is with equal fervency that I argue that there are too many bands and many completely undeserving of a place in the Hall of Fame and that before more can be added, some must be removed. Those that deserve a place should have influence beyond just other bands, but should have a very real impact on society through their music.

The example I use as a yardstick by which all others should be measured is artist, producer, band member, record executive, and social conscience Curtis Mayfield. Mayfield’s son, Todd, details his father’s life story, from a hardscrabble beginning in Chicago’s notorious Cabrini Green housing projects to touring musician, member of the Impressions, songwriter, producer and later artistic voice of the Civil Rights movement in the new bio, Traveling Soul: The Life of Curtis Mayfield.

Traveling Soul, paints an intimate portrait of a multi-talented, yet seemingly introverted man who almost reluctantly embraced his role as a mover and shaker not only in the music community, but in society as a whole. Mayfield was a monster of a talent, influencing artists ranging from Rod Stewart and Steve Winwood to Bruce Springsteen and so many more.

If your world view of Mayfield extents only as far as Superfly and Freddie’s Dead do yourself a favor and dig a little deeper into the wide ranging discography that made up his career. Todd Mayfield offer unique insight and perspective into the life of this very private man, that will surely prove to have Traveling Soul, rank among the best music bios of all time.

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