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Words by Jillian Bowe

Lionel Richie has secured the rights to create a biopic on the life of the late singer and songwriter Curtis Mayfield. Deadline is reporting Richie, who is an upcoming judge on the rebooted American Idol competition series, acquired the rights to produce a feature film from Mayfield’s estate through his RichLion Productions.

Richie told the site through a released statement,

It’s an honor for me to bring the life of one of my idols and friend to the screen. I’m so grateful to be working closely with Altheida Mayfield, Cheaa Mayfield, and the Curtis Mayfield Estate and couldn’t be happier to be moving forward on this amazing project about a one-of-a-kind music genius.

Mayfield’s widow Altheida stated,


It’s time to celebrate and re-evaluate Curtis’ legacy. For years, too many others have tried to claim what he alone did. He was a genius, always stood on his own.

Mayfield started writing songs in his native Chicago at the tender age of 11 before he joined Jerry Butler‘s group The Impressions at 14. Mayfield penned the group’s hit songs, “People Get Ready” and “Keep on Pushing” along with top 10 pop hits, and 6 number 1 songs on Billboard’s R&B Singles charts.

Mayfield went on to have the success of his own after leaving the group in the 70s, with the album Superfly, the soundtrack to the Gordon Parks, Jr movie of the same name, which many consider being a classic of soul and funk music. Superfly along with Marvin Gaye‘s What’s Going On, are thought of as the pioneering concept albums, which dealt with discussions on the plight of Blacks in the ghetto.

Mayfield’s health took a drastic turn in 1990 when he became paralyzed from the neck down at an outdoor concert in Brooklyn due to lighting equipment falling on him. In 1999, Mayfield died after from type 2 diabetes.