We're a Winner
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|"We're a Winner"|
|Single by The Impressions|
|from the album We're a Winner|
|B-side||"It’s All Over"|
|Recorded||RCA Victor Studios, Chicago; Universal Studios, Chicago: 1967|
|The Impressions singles chronology|
"We're a Winner" is a 1967 single recorded by The Impressions for the ABC-Paramount label. Written and produced by Impressions lead singer Curtis Mayfield, the song is notable as one of the most prominent popular recordings dealing with the subject of black pride. The single peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Pop Chart, and was the number-one single on the Billboard R&B Chart during the week of March 1, 1968.
The concept for "We're a Winner" came to Curtis Mayfield one night in a dream; the musician quickly woke himself and ran with his inspiration. The resulting song was an uplifting composition whose lyrics encouraged the listener that the time for self-pity is over, and that one should acknowledge his or her worth, even in the face of opposition. Intended as an inspirational song for the group's primarily African-American audiences, Mayfield urges his audience to "Keep on pushin'/like your leaders tell you to" - the "leaders" being figures involved in the Civil Rights Movement such as Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael, and others. To accentuate the song's uplifting feel, "We're a Winner" was recorded with a live audience in the RCA Victor and Universal studios in the Impressions' homebase of Chicago, Illinois.
Although the Impressions had previously released inspiration singles such as "People Get Ready", "Keep on Pushing", and "Amen", those songs were more general and often more directly rooted in gospel music than "We're a Winner". Only a few other previous singles by other mainstream popular artists - most notably Sam Cooke's posthumous release "A Change is Gonna Come" - had attempted to directly address racial politics in America.
"We're a Winner", included on a 1968 Impressions LP of the same name, became a virtual anthem for the Civil Rights Movement, and its success resulted not only in similar follow-ups from the Impressions (among them "Choice of Colors" and "This is My Country"), but also marked the beginning of a trend towards increasing social consciousness in soul music. During and after "We're a Winner's" chart run in 1968, several other acts, including James Brown ("Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud") and Sly & the Family Stone ("Everyday People") were releasing successful hits which directly addressed racial issues and black pride.
- Lead vocals by Curtis Mayfield
- Background vocals by Sam Gooden and Fred Cash
- Guitar by Phil Upchurch
- Bass guitar by Lenny Brown
- Drums by Billy Griffin
- Produced, arranged, and conducted by Johnny Pate
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 272.
- Hogan, Ed. "We're a Winner". Allmusic.com