The late Curtis Mayfield integrated music and message in a way that changed history. Four-plus decades after achieving renown, his talent shines in the film Movin’ On Up: The Music and Message of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions (Reelin’ in the Years Productions). More than a documentary, Movin’ On Up presents 22 complete songs, along with interviews.
A native of Chicago, Mayfield proved a hot commodity at a young age, penning such hits as “The Monkey Time” for Major Lance and “Gypsy Woman” for Brian Hyland. That gave him room to stretch his wings, releasing “Keep On Pushing” in 1964 as part of the vocal trio the Impressions. That song is widely regarded as the first to rally the civil rights movement.
The following year he penned “People Get Ready,” a gospel-tinged ballad that stresses heavenly equality beyond worldly divisions. Martin Luther King Jr. adopted it in 1966 for his Chicago campaign.