A NOTE ON SOURCES - Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul - Craig Werner

Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul - Craig Werner (2004)


Aretha Franklin

The primary sources of biographical information concerning Aretha are her autobiography, Aretha: From These Roots (New York: Villard, 1999), written in collaboration with the premier autobiographer David Ritz; and two celebrity biographies: Mark Bego, Aretha Franklin: Queen of Soul, rev. ed. (New York: Da Capo, 2001); and Leslie Gourse, Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul (New York: Franklin Watts, 1995). The video The Queen of Soul, beautifully scripted by Nelson George, captures the core of Aretha’s career better than any other source. Several overviews of soul music history include substantive interviews with Aretha, among them David Nathan, The Soulful Divas (New York: Billboard Books, 1999); Phyl Garland, The Sound of Soul (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1969); and Gerri Hirshey, Nowhere to Run: The Sound of Soul Music (New York: Penguin, 1984). Both Bego and Gourse make extensive use of two well-known interviews with Aretha: James T. Jones IV, “Soul of the Queen,” Vanity Fair (Mar. 1994); and Clarence Walden, “Aretha Franklin Talks About: Being a Diva, Battle with Weight,” Jet (May 1998).

Stevie Wonder

The best sources of information on Stevie are the celebrity biographies by Constanze Elsner, Stevie Wonder (New York: Popular Library, 1977), and John Swenson, Stevie Wonder (New York: Harper and Row, 1986). I have also made use of James Haskins, The Stevie Wonder Story (New York: Dell, 1979); and Martin E. Horn, Innervisions: The Music of Stevie Wonder (Bloomington, Ind.: 1st Books, 2000). Two books by people close to Stevie provide glimpses of his personal life, especially during his early years: Dennis Love and Stacy Brown, Blind Faith: The Miraculous Journey of Lula Hardaway, Stevie Wonder’s Mother (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2002); and Ted Hull with Paul Stahel, The Wonder Years: My Life and Times with Stevie Wonder (Booklocker.com, 2002), which was published too late for me to make use of in this book. Several books on Motown give extensive attention to Stevie, among them Nelson George, Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound (New York: St. Martin’s, 1985); Bill Dahl, Motown: The Golden Years (Iola, Wis.: Krause, 2001); and Peter Benjaminson, The Story of Motown (New York: Grove Press, 1979). Both Elsner and Swenson rely largely on published interviews with Stevie, the most important of which is, without question, Ben Fong- Torres, “The Formerly Little Stevie Wonder” Rolling Stone (Apr. 26, 1973), reprinted in Not Fade Away (San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books, 1999). Other useful or frequently cited interviews include O’Connell Driscoll, “Stevie Wonder in New York,” in Jann Wenner, ed., 20 Years of Rolling Stone: What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been (New York: Straight Arrow, 1987); Sue Clark, “Stevie Wonder Gets Good and Pissed,” Rolling Stone (Sept. 30, 1971); O’Connell Driscoll, “Growing Up Stevie Wonder,” Rolling Stone ( June 19, 1975); Ellen Willis, “The Importance of Being Stevie Wonder,” New Yorker (Dec. 30, 1974); Giles Smith, “Realms of Wonder,” New Yorker (Mar. 13, 1995); Michael Goldberg, “The Timeless World of Wonder,” Rolling Stone (Apr. 10, 1986); Ed Ward, “Jamaican ‘Dream’ Show: Will Wonder Never Cease,” Rolling Stone (Nov. 20, 1975); “Stevie Wonder Discusses Car Crash,” Rolling Stone (Sept. 27, 1973); and Stuart Werbin, “Stevie Wonder’s Auto Accident: He’s Recovering,” Rolling Stone (Sept. 13, 1973).

Curtis Mayfield

All historians of Chicago soul music are profoundly indebted to Robert Pruter’s Chicago Soul (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991) and Doowop: The Chicago Scene (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1996). There has been no in-depth biographical study focused on Mayfield or the Impressions, but the liner notes to Rhino Records’ box set People Get Ready! The Curtis Mayfield Story include a helpful compilation of quotations by and about Mayfield. Useful interviews include my own “Curtis Mayfield,” Goldmine ( July 4, 1997), reprinted in Classic Rock Digest (Iola, Wis.: Krause, 1998); Robert Gordon, “The Original Superfly Guy,” Q (July 1993); Alan Light, “A Lasting Impression: The Rolling Stone Interview with Curtis Mayfield,” Rolling Stone (Oct. 28, 1993); and Chris Salewicz, “Keep On Pushing: Curtis Mayfield,” Rock’s Backpages.com.

Reference Works

The indispensable sources of data concerning the record charts are the books compiled by Joel Whitburn: Top Pop Singles 1955-1993 (Menominee Falls, Wis.: Record Research, 1994); Top Pop Albums 1955-1996 (Menominee Falls, Wis.: Record Research, 1997); Top R&B Singles 1942-1999 (Menominee Falls, Wis.: Record Research, 2000); and Top R&B Albums 1965-1998 (Menominee Falls, Wis.: Record Research, 1999). The most reliable source of biographical details on popular musicians is Dafydd Rees and Luke Crampton, VH1 Music First Encyclopedia: Rock Stars (New York: DK Publishing, 1999).

Historical Contexts

The portrait of Chicago and Detroit in this book is deeply indebted to two brilliant works of urban history: Thomas J. Sugrue, The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996); and Arnold R. Hirsch, Making the Second Ghetto: Race and Housing in Chicago 1940-1960 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998). Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor, American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley, His Battle for Chicago and the Nation (Boston: Little, Brown, 2000), complements Hirsch’s incisive analysis of race in Chicago by means of a compelling narrative biography of the elder Richard Daley. I have also benefited from Wilbur C. Rich’s Coleman Young and Detroit Politics (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1989). My understanding of the civil rights movement in the North was aided greatly by Patrick Jones’s dissertation, The Selma of the North: Race and Politics in Milwaukee, forthcoming from Harvard University Press.


Joanne Bland, Oct. 2002, Madison, Wis.

Jerry Butler, Mar. 2001, Chicago, Ill.

Dave Marsh, May 2002, New York City

Curtis Mayfield, Apr. 1997, Atlanta, Ga.

Johnny Meadows, Feb. 2002, Chicago, Ill.

Gordon Sellers, Oct. 2002, Madison, Wis.

Mavis Staples, June 1997, Chicago, Ill.

Eddie Thomas, Feb. 2002, Chicago, Ill.

Ernest Withers, Apr. 2002, Madison, Wis.

Bobby Womack, Aug. 1999, Los Angeles, Calif.