Lionel Richie is producing a biopic on “one of his idols and friends,” Curtis Mayfield. Richie secured rights to the the late singer/songwriter’s estate to produce a forthcoming film project through his RichLion Productions imprint, Deadline reports.
Richie is working closely with Mayfield’s family, including his widow, Altheida Mayfield, on the film. “It’s an honor for me to bring the life of one of my idols and friend to the screen,” Richie said in a statement to Deadline. “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.”
Altheida added that it’s “time to celebrate and re-evaluate” the legacy of her late husband. “For years, too many others have tried to claim what he alone did. He was a genius, always stood on his own,” she said.
The Chicago native began his career as a member of the Impressions in the early 1950s and is credited for soundtracking the Civil Rights Movement with songs such as “Keep on Pushing,” and the group’s best known hit, “People Get Ready.”
In the late ‘60s, Mayfield launched his own record label and released his self-titled solo debut in 1970.
He would continue performing over the next two decades but in 1990, Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down after stage lighting equipment fell on him during an outdoor concert in Brooklyn. The longtime musician continued to compose and sing, but was no longer able to play guitar.
Mayfield was inducted into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Impressions in 1991, and would earn a solo induction prior to his death. He was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and released his final album,New World Order, in 1996. Two years after the release, Mayfield had a leg amputated due to diabetes in 1998.
Mayfield died in 1999 from complications brought on by the disease. He was 57.