On Saturday (Dec. 21st), an array of government officials, industry officials and local and national recording artists are expected to help the family of Curtis Lee Braxton say farewell to the man many knew as an accomplished performer, recording artist, band director, voice-over artist and radio personality.
Known as Captain Curtis Lee, Mr. Braxton died Dec. 11 after a brief illness. He was 69.
Services for Mr. Lee will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Greater Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church located at 1072 South Wellington. The wake will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday at Superior Funeral Home's south location at 460 E. McLemore.
With a passion for music and performing that emerged early, Mr. Braxton developed a love for classic soul and blues. He put his passion into action, leaving home at 14 to pursue his musical aspirations. In New York City, he linked up with three other male vocalists, forming the original lineup of doo-wop singing group The Drifters.
Branching off to pursue solo efforts, Mr. Braxton became an opening act for the God Father of Soul, James Brown. He secured titles as band director and studio vocal producer for various major recording artists. His band directing efforts opened the door for him to display his abilities as a concert MC extraordinaire.
On Memphis radio, Mr. Braxton was known for taking listeners on a fantastic voyage daily via the airwaves, becoming affectionately loved as Captain Curtis Lee. He began his career in radio in 1974 at 1340 AM WLOK prior to the station's format switch to gospel. He served as the station's chief production executive and top rated on-air host.
From 1990 to 1992, he served as operations manager and staff announcer at WNWZ-FM. Later, he was the production manager at Urban AC KRNB MAGIC 101.1 (now Urban AC KJMS V101.1) from 1992 until 1996. He functioned in the capacity of production director once again at KXHT Hot 107.1 in 1997.
"The Captain" landed on the runway for the inaugural flight of the Blues Cruise at AM 1070 WDIA in 1997. While at WDIA, he set a record for the highest ratings in Memphis radio, gaining a 22 share while at WDIA. At Soul Classics 103.5 WRBO, he secured an 11 share on the Saturday morning blues block.
During his tenure as a radio announcer, the Captain broke the careers of numerous blues and southern soul recording artists. His proudest moment came when he was able to co-produce and be the first to break the initial radio hit of his wife, recording artist Miz B. The single was titled "My Name Is $$$."
The Blues Cruise took off for its last on-air flight in 2011 at WPLX AM 1180. The Captain served as the host of the Beale Street Summer Block party in 2012. He is also credited as a great voiceover artist, as he was the voice of Greg's Store for Men, Bert's, Marty's, and various other brands.
He is survived by his wife of 30 plus years, Mary Braxton, and his mother-in-law, Dorothy Mae Swafford; and eight in-laws, whom he affectionately considered his sisters and brothers: Bill (Josie) Sanders, Shirley Taylor, Lefty Sanders, Dwayne (Clara) Sanders, Deborah Jamison, Aserlean Dotson, and Timothy Sanders.
He leaves nine children: Mona Campbell of Massachusetts, Curtis Pettis (Rasheda), Daniel Braxton, Jody Pettis (Jennifer), Ruby Marion (Robert), Tammy Pettis, Bridgette Cole, Dorothy Thomas and his baby girl, Katherine Latrice Braxton, all of Memphis.
He also leaves three godsons: Darnell Moses and Cliff and Juan Macklin; one goddaughter, Rachel Diggs, and two nephews, whom he considered sons, the Rev, Willie J. Jamison Jr., and Darius Jamison. He leaves behind 14 grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, other in-laws, cousins and friends.
He was preceded in death by his sister, Centree Day.