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Sean John Combs inducts Curtis Mayfield

What's up, Danny?  All great music is soul music; no matter what genre of music it is, it has to contain a little bit of soul, and God knows, nobody ever had more soul than my man, Curtis Mayfield.  To paraphrase that great, old Impressions song, "The man's got soul."  Curtis Mayfield has always been a divine artist in every sense of the word.  He's a teacher, a preacher, a poet, a founding funk pioneer.  From his early days in Chicago, he brought a sense of religious purity to his music, whether he was creating his songs for the Church, or his songs for the streets.  Curtis realized there was no difference.  Curtis wrote songs connected with singers and saints, and other people that had to get ready.  Whether they were songs of hope or songs or despair, he wrote about the human experience with amazing grace and remarkable honesty.  His music has always communicated a sense of the holy and the sting of the truth.  Growing up, it was hard to imagine some of these creations were actually written by a man.  They sounded timeless, God-given - and I believe they were.  When Curtis Mayfield left, he left an impression; one of giant vocal soul... when he... whoop... I'm sorry, I'm a little bit nervous.  I meant to say: when he left the Impressions, they were one of the giant vocal soul groups of all time.  He headed his way in 1970, and he bravely showed us amazing new sides of that beautiful soul of his.  In all the realities of American life changed.  Mayfield's music reflected those changes in ways that were very frightening, and gorgeous, and funky as hell.  You can hear it on such killer tracks as "Freddy's Dead," "Superfly," "Pusher Man," and "Don't Worry, If There's a Hell Below, We're All Gonna Go."  I think I sampled one or two of those records myself.  Somehow, as times got tougher, the music got even deeper, which is to say, very deep indeed.  Since then, Curtis Mayfield has proven himself to be unstoppable in ways which are simply beyond description.  His 1996 New World Order album was much more than a comeback.  It was the return of a much-needed voice and an aspiring heart.  Suffice to say, as much soul as Curtis Mayfield has shown us over the years through his genius as a singer, a songwriter, a producer, and a guitar player, he showed us even more as a man.  For all these reasons, and millions more, it is my profound honor to welcome this legend into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. So people, get ready to induct a superfly musical giant, a spiritual leader, and a soul survivor - the one and only Curtis Mayfield.  And accepting his award is his family.  Please give it up for them.

Curtis Mayfield