Sunday, January 1, 2012
The Power of Poetry: Curtis Mayfield
I have been called Miss There are No More Love Songs because of a spoken word piece I did. I am reading Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield and the Rise and Fall of American Soul. My childhood was filled with soul music; it was in the backdrop of everything from family reunions, graduations, house cleaning, and let's stay together parties. Because of the musical exposure, I yearn for good loves songs. Good love songs are kissing cousins to good poems. The poet and the songwriter were impregnated by the same divine parents. One of the most poignant songwriters was the Chicago native Curtis Mayfield. His discography speaks of a superb talent. My favorite Curtis Mayfield song is, The Makings of You. It has been covered by Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Lauryn Hill and Angie Stone. Biographer, Craig Werner, wrote of the literacy influence of Curtis' mother, "She was very much into poetry. She wrote poems herself and had a lot of books of poetry which I used to read all the time. She read me Paul Laurence Dunbar, Dr. Seuss, limericks. These became foundational for my hook lines and rhythmic patterns." These were the makings of you, Maestro Mayfield and the power of poetry.