Rolling Stone Italy: "Only by writing my husband Curtis understood himself"

Rolling Stone Italy: "Only by writing my husband Curtis understood himself"

The news is that Rhino Records will reprint in a single bundle the first four, important albums by Curtis Mayfield. Four milestones of soul and black activism, renamed under the very title of Keep On Keeping On: Studio Albums 1970-1974 .

Yes, because if there is someone who has always continued to continue, that man is Mayfield, between a difficult childhood, the debut with Impressions, the extraordinary solo career and finally the tragic accident of 1990, when during a concert in Brooklyn, lights fell on his head, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. However, this did not prevent him from continuing to write and be Curtis Mayfield, at least until the end of his days a decade later.

Beside him, in all these decades of beautiful and tragic moments, his wife Altheida, an incredible woman who never stopped a second from loving and protecting him. And that still today is moved to talk about it.

Was the idea of ​​the reprint yours? 
Actually it was Warner and Rhino Records who suggested it to me. I immediately thought it was a great idea.

When did you meet your husband for the first time? 
Oh my God ! I think it was just after the release of For Your Precious Love with Impressions, then around 1959/60. It seems to me like we grew up together! Sometimes it happens when you spend a lot of time with a person.

What was his first impression? 
I was very young, and so was he. My first impression of him? Mmm .. I would say intrusive. I was a little girl walking down the street and he was in the car with the other Impressions following me. They were more or less the times of For Your Precious Love . In those days it was normal, the boys followed you on the street at the time. But for me it was unusual, I was a girl who came from the countryside while he was a city rat. I still didn't know his music, having only made a record. But in the suburbs they were already enjoying success

And then from there to a few years Martin Luther King would use their songs during the rallies. What effect did Curtis have on this? 
I'm not sure if he realized it. Also because Curtis was so naturally himself that he wrote and threw out what he had inside, but also what he saw around him. And the world around him was changing. And that helped him a lot to make himself known, because people reflected in what he said in the songs, and these people were very important like Dr. King but also unknown. He simply had the right words to describe everything, and people loved this thing. His words were also useful in meetings, because they were very clear and shared.

Didn't he feel under pressure for this? 
He felt very under pressure. It came from public housing, which is not a happy living in America, so it developed from an early age an immense desire to communicate, to make its voice heard. But he had a big problem of dialogue, of language. So his mother told him to write as a child. If he wrote, his words came out much better than from the mouth. He wrote what he felt and what he could not say. He was constantly looking for himself. Writing was the only way he knew himself. That's who Curtis was.

But why did he break away from Impressions? Didn't you express yourself enough with the band? 
No, I think that at some point we grow and everyone has to go his own way. At one point, he had grown too big for Impressions. He had to do things on his own. They were a great group together, harmonizing in an absurd manner, but it was time for him to go further. And so he did.

Did he have any regrets? 
No, I do not think. The Impressions were just the beginning. Only once he started doing it alone, Curtis really started to understand himself.

How did you spend the last years of your life? 
He had to go through a lot of things that normal people don't know about. He had to learn to live and work again but in a different way. For him it was very important that he could compose even as a paralyzed person. And that the world continued to appreciate it as before the accident. And perhaps only after that tragedy did he realize how much people loved him, how many friends supported him and how many fellow artists esteemed him.

It is sad, however, that in his texts he inspired people to have a better future. But he himself could not have one. 
I can't describe the darkness of those moments, but it could have been much worse. Curtis and I then had six children, all very young. The evening they took him home from the hospital, they put him on the floor on a blanket. That evening all the children slept on the floor beside him. I am moved when I think about it. He never stopped fighting.

The same could happen to me. But how come only the first four albums will be republished? 
We'll start that way, then who knows. We have many things in mind, many exits and initiatives to keep Curtis' memory alive. I think you deserve it

Original Article from Rolling Stone Italy