Greetings dear ones!
As I listened to the music that Bobbie Colt included in her March 13 worship service and heard Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions sing their classic “People Get Ready” (the version I was most familiar with), the music and lyrics transported me back to the mid-sixties. This was a time of great change for our country: widespread civil rights and unrest; mass protests and marches; assassinations of prominent leaders including our President and Dr. King, Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers, to name a few. My faith, Roman Catholicism, was transformed in the aftermath of Vatican II; who knew the sisters who taught us had hair! Had Legs? Had REAL names, not just Sister Joseph Martin. Our illegal war in a small country called Vietnam was on the national evening news, with numbers and names of young soldiers who died that day scrolling across the TV screen, and the beginning of the women’s movement coincided with my emerging adolescence.
Hearing Bobbie talk about the meaning this musical piece held for Mayfield—as a call to the heavenly afterlife promised by faith in Jesus—helped me understand, once again, the ways our societal references influence our interpretation—translation, if you will—of current events. When I heard this passionate song on the radio in 1966, I thought Mayfield was singing about what was happening in the here and now, what was happening across the strata of our country and around the world.
In the 1960s I knew nothing of Curtis Mayfield’s emergence from the world of gospel and church music, to use the power of his music also as a call to social justice. To this day, I am thankful I can still be a student, still hear, see and feel things from many perspectives!
Welcome to the month of April Awakenings! People, Get Ready!