Gil Scott-Heron – USA

(Not to be confused with Guillermo Scott Herren, a hip hop and IDM producer and artist, who has been based out of Atlanta, Barcelona and New York).

Gil Scott-Heron (born April 1, 1949) is an American poet, musician, and author known primarily for his late 1960s and early 1970s work as a spoken word soul performer and his collaborative work with musician Brian Jackson.[1] His collaborative efforts with Jackson featured a musical fusion of jazz, blues and soul music, as well as lyrical content concerning social and political issues of the time, delivered in both rapping and melismatic vocal styles by Scott-Heron. The music of these albums, most notably Pieces of a Man and Winter in America in the early 1970s, influenced and helped engender later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. Scott-Heron’s recording work is often associated with black militant activism and has received much critical acclaim for one of his most well-known compositions “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. On his influence, a music writer later noted that “Scott-Heron’s unique proto-rap style influenced a generation of hip-hop artists” … (full text wikipedia, last modified on 31 January 2009).

…Gil Scott-Heron may have started out in 1971 as an angry young revolutionary, spouting racially-charged polemics, but my man was also twenty-two years old at the time. Ten year later, when Gil cut “Blue Collar” (from the Moving Target LP), he was older, wiser and in tone at least, quieter. He realized that the battle for equality wasn’t just in the urban centers where most of the black and Latino folk are, but also “between the cities and the towns,” where you’ll find mostly working-class white folk, many of whom are dealing with the same or similar economic pressures as working class black people deal with in Chicago or L.A. or NYC … (full text, scroll down).


Gil Scott-Heron – USA

Watch these videos:

… I won’t say working with Gil was easy – I was an inexperienced editor and publicist trying to look after one of the most notoriously erratic performers and get him to turn up to more interviews, broadcasts and signings than he would ever want to do – but it was rewarding and enlightening and to be absolutely certain – Gil knew exactly what he was doing the whole time and was in so many ways the consummate professional. (That he didn’t do things the way I wanted him to goes to show why I was the amateur.) I thought I’d share the follwing story as I’ve enjoyed telling it in the past … (full text, 23/08/06).

It was around the middle seventies when I first heard this brazen, young black man’s voice.  He was angry! We were angry! I was angry!  Angry over the fact that it was a few years ago that they had just taken from us our black shining Prince. He was mad.  We were mad.  I was mad!  Mad over the fact that our struggle for freedom had come to a screeching halt.  He was loud!  Loud and determined to be heard.  And I heard him. I heard him loud and clear.  I heard him when he said “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”.  I heard him when he said “No Knock On My Brothers’ Head”.  I heard him when he was saying that the spirit of Brother Malcolm will flourish in him as it has in me … (full text, 2.13.2009).

… Musically, Mr. Scott-Heron sounded a bit more gruff, (we might call this older and wiser) and has thusly surrounded himself with an array of top-notch performers as his band (particularly on keys and bass). His songs retained all of the potency and relevance as when they were written, their lyrical content ranging from war to substance abuse to being down across this country … (full text, February 12, 2009).

… By the late ’70s, Scott-Heron’s sound had adopted a bit more of a contemporary R&B aesthetic, but his jazz roots remain clear. He hasn’t released any new recorded material since 1994’s Spirits, and in the early ’00s, faced prison time for drug possession charges. He has since been released, and as of early 2009, he is working on a new record, and still makes occasional live appearances. Playing the Madison Square Garden stage on September 23rd, 1979, taking part in the famous series of “No Nukes” concerts organized by the Musicians United for Safe Energy, he reveals not just his politics yet a driving fusion between his worlds of jazz, poetry, and R&B … (full text, February 7th, 2009).

Find him and his publicationson last fm (scroll down); on amazon /music; on GSH-videos; on GSH-websites; on soulwalking /albums (scroll down); on amazon/music; on Gil Scott Heron; on wikipedia: /discography, /bibliography, and /filmography; on Google News-search; on Google Video-search; on inauthor Google-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search; on Google Products-result.

… Heron’s early albums with Brian Jackson were Jazz-Funk affairs that had a greater connection to the radical FM rock of the early 1970s than to most R&B of the day. But by the middle of that decade, Heron’s voice and material were strong enough to get airtime on urban airwaves, and he scored hits with “The Bottle” and “Johannesburg.” Heron has only recorded once during the ’90s, but his original, multigenre mix of songs and spoken word has been embraced by the British Acid Jazz generation but serious personal demons have waylaid his career. (full text).

He says:

  • … I could sing ‘em backwards the way people do on the radio. I could make as little sense as the songs I hear. But I don’t choose to do that. I choose to convey whatever feeling motivated a particular story and try to put that out there more so than how thoroughly baritone or tenor or whatever I can do with vocals ’cause I mean you can’t do what I do without being able to sing. What I don’t choose to demonstrate in the same way that other people do, I’m not trying to do vocal gymnastics, I’m trying to be understood. So that’s how I try to play it and sing it. Soon as you understand how this felt, you become the narrator in another story with each song. You play a different part, every time you sing a song: an alcoholic, a con man, a drug addict or whatever depending on the perspective of the narrator of the song. Of course, it’s impossible for any one person to be all that, I imagine. I’ve got 200 some odd songs, obviously I couldn’t. But if I can convince you for the next 10-15 minutes that that’s what I am and who I am, then you will better understand who they are and what they are and I put it in the first person so I won’t be accusing anyone, I’ll be performing. So I have had a few people who heard this and thought that, that I had a daughter after they heard “Your Daddy Loves You,” even though I didn’t have one, my first daughter was born six years later. That something dramatic had happened to my father after they had heard “Pieces of a Man,” even though that wasn’t true either. That I was an alcoholic after they heard “The Bottle,” even though I didn’t drink. That I was a drug addict after they heard “Home is where the Hatred is,” even though I’m so afraid of needles, if I get a hole in my socks I just throw them away. But if I can convince you the way Al Pacino does or Robert Deniro does or Denzel Washington does for that length of time that that’s who I am and that’s what I am then I have done what I was supposed to. I’ve given you a look at that you wouldn’t ordinarily get. And it’s done primarily with feelings more so than with how many different octaves I can sing … (full interview text, 02/19/2009);
  • … I became aware of Obama at the previous Democratic National Convention in 2004 and felt at that time that he had some potential as a national leader because of the way he touched the crowd and the atmosphere and the energy that he put into them. Naturally, I watched the campaign and the work he did to get nominated and I’ve just been very, very thrilled with it. I’ve read his books. He has a future as a writer. If he hadn’t become president, he had a future as a writer because there were some things that he did that, literarily, were matchless. I’m been very impressed with him on all levels. He seems to be a fine family man and a good father and those are things that I would like to be myself. I’m a good family man and a mediocre father. I could do a better job… I still have one child who is ten years old and I’m struggling to understand what it is that she’s talking about. She got the Wii system for Christmas. I had no idea. When my first daughter was small and she wanted a Black cabbage patch doll that smelled like baby powder, I had to go down and fight some old ladies to get that… You try to keep up with your kids but every once in your they take a couple of turns that you didn’t see coming. So I’m shuddering now to find out, what it is and try and relate as I get further and further away from my childhood. I didn’t know what the Wii system was and that were a lot of different ways to get into it … (full interview text);
  • … “Now, listen to this,” Scott said. “That’s who the fuck Gil Scott-Heron is.” And immediately, I remembered “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and I made the connection, as I heard the lyrics from the disc’s final track “Don’t Give Up.” “Ain’t no way overnight for you to turn your life around/And this ain’t the commentary of somebody who hasn’t fallen right back down/ But if you’re looking for a loser who found strength and success. Remember the spirit of brother, Malcolm X.” With these words, I not only knew who Gil Scott-Heron was, but what he was and will always be to his listeners. Gil Scott-Heron is a culture bearer. A griot in the truest sense of the word, whose message must be transmitted from generation to generation in the same way in which my mentor revealed Heron’s work to me. There are few artists who emit this type of importance to their own culture and beyond. Gil Scott-Heron is one of them … (full text, January/February 2001).


Community poetry/rap project;


Hip Hop megastars blend with Blake and Beowulf in FE classrooms in Sheffield;

the Boneyard Rap;

Rap It Up – A modern approach to poetry;

Cool Gray Granny Raps;

Poetry-Friendly Classroom;

Poetry Rap by Summerfield Youth Group;

Rap Trap;

Is rap just poetry with an accent and a different beat?

Is rap music? or poetry?

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