Throughout the years fans have been given biographies on Curtis Mayfield that explored his impact and influence on soul music, and the black American experience. And now fans will be getting another book that’ll do the same while offering levels of intimacy and depth unseen before, written by the artist’s very own son.
In a report from the Chicago Tribune, Mayfield’s second oldest son Todd will be having a celebratory release party for the book in Chicago, which coincides with its worldwide release on October 1. The book, titled Traveling Soul: The Life of Curtis Mayfield, was written by Todd, in collaboration with writer Travis Atria.
“In presenting his story through my eyes,” Todd writes, “I have tried to tell it like it is and like it was, even when a crafted piece of public relations would have made him look better.”
The book will chronicle Mayfield’s life from childhood up until his death in 1999, but considering Todd is the one telling the story this time around, the biography seems to offer more depth than its predecessors. The Chicago Tribune offers little samples, such as Mayfield moving to the dangerous Cabrini-Green housing complex on the Near North Side of Chicago, and befriending fellow soul singer and songwriter Jerry Butler.
Mayfield ultimately joined Butler’s group, The Impressions, and made a number of hits with the group: “Gypsy Woman,” “It’s Alright” and “I’m So Proud.” Two of his songs, “Keep on Pushing” and “People Get Ready,” became anthems for the civil rights movement too.
After embarking on a solo career during the 1970s, Mayfield was left paralyzed from the neck down after stage lighting equipment fell on him in 1990. He managed to release a final album in 1996, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 (although he was too ill to attend), before passing away in December of that year. He was 57.
“At that moment, I didn’t know what to think or how to feel,” writes Todd in Traveling Soul. “A part of me felt relief that he was gone and didn’t have to suffer any longer. Another part of me felt alone, with no father to be there for me if I really needed something.”
If you’re a fan of Mayfield you’ll definitely want to get this book as soon as it drops.