Music and lyrics by Curtis Mayfield
Arranged for chorus and soloist by Paul Dupree

Performed by Coventry Choir and Zanaida Robles, soprano
All Saints Church, Pasadena, Cali­fornia
James Walker, Director of Music
Sunday, September 25, 2011

People get ready there’s a train a-coming.
You don’t need no baggage, you just get on board.
All you need is faith to hear the diesels humming.
Don’t need no ticket, you just thank the Lord.

People get ready for the train to Jordan,
picking up passen­gers from coast to coast.
Faith is the key, open the doors and board them.
There’s room for all; people get ready.

Curtis Lee Mayfield (June 3, 1942–December 26, 1999) was an Amer­ican soul, R&B, and funk singer, song­writer, and record producer. Best known for his music with The Impres­sions and for composing the sound­track to the film Super Fly, Mayfield is highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of polit­i­cally conscious African-Amer­ican music. He grew up singing gospel in Chicago black churches, and was also a multi-instru­men­talist who played the guitar, bass, piano, saxo­phone and drums.

Mayfield’s career began in 1956 when he joined The Roosters. Two years later when The Roosters evolved into The Impres­sions, Mayfield became the lead singer. Their hit Amen, an updated version of an old gospel tune, was included in the sound­track of the 1963 MGM film Lilies of the Field. The Impres­sions reached the height of their popu­larity with a string of Mayfield compo­si­tions that included Gypsy Woman, It’s All Right, Talking about My Baby, Woman’s Got Soul, Choice of Colors, Fool For You, This is My Country and Check Out Your Mind.

In the early 1960s, Mayfield wrote much of the sound­track of the civil rights move­ment. His Keep on Pushing was an anthem for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the move­ment.

People Get Ready was inspired by King’s 1963 March on Wash­ington. In an inter­view with National Public Radio’s Terry Gross, Mayfield said the song was a subcon­scious product of “the preach­ings of my grand­mothers.” He wrote the ballad “in a deep mood, a spir­i­tual state of mind,” just before Martin Luther King Jr.‘s 1966 march on Chicago. Shortly after People Get Ready was released, churches in Chicago began including their own version in song­books.

The song became one of the first gospel crossover hits and ranks 24th on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest hits of all time. The song is a classic for black and white musi­cians, including Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, James Taylor, Bob Marley, Eva Cassidy, Aaron Neville, Seal, Phil Collins, Wynonna Judd, Sting, Jeff Beck and Aretha Franklin.

Curtis Mayfield is a winner of both the Grammy Legend Award (in 1994) and the Grammy Life­time Achieve­ment Award (in 1995), and was a double inductee into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1991 as a member of The Impres­sions and in 1999 as a solo artist.

“Just as your piece was ending, the woman next to me in the pew whis­pered to me, ‘Isn’t that just the kind of piece you’d down­load to your iTunes so you could listen to it again?’”