Τρίτη, 31 Μαΐου 2011

Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-HeronCover of Gil Scott-HeronGilbert "Gil" Scott-Heron (April 1, 1949 – May 27, 2011)[2] was an American poetmusician, and author known primarily for his work as aspoken word performer in the 1970s and 80s, and for his collaborative soul works with musician Brian Jackson. 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 

activism and has received much critical acclaim for one of his most well-known compositions "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". His poetic style has been influential upon every generation of hip hop since his popularity began.[3] In addition to being widely considered an influence in today's music, Scott-Heron remained active until his death, and in 2010 released his first new album in 16 years, entitled I'm New Here.

Gil Scott-Heron was born in Chicago, Illinois.[4] His mother, Bobbie Scott-Heron, sang with the New York Oratorio Society. Scott-Heron'sJamaican father, Gil Heron, nicknamed "The Black Arrow", was a soccer player who, in the 1950s, became the first black athlete to play forGlasgow Celtic Football Club in Scotland. Gil's parents separated when he was two[5] and Gil was sent to live with his maternal grandmother, Lillie Scott, in Jackson, Tennessee.[6] When Scott-Heron was 12 years old, his grandmother died and he moved with his mother to The Bronx in New York City, where he enrolled in DeWitt Clinton High School[5] He later transferred to The Fieldston School after one of his teachers, a Fieldston graduate, showed one of his writings to the head of the English department at Fieldston and he was granted a fullscholarship.

Early years

Scott-Heron attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, as it was the college chosen by his biggest influence Langston Hughes. It was here that Scott-Heron met Brian Jackson with whom he formed the band Black & Blues. After about two years at Lincoln, Scott-Heron took a year off to write the novels The Vulture and The Nigger Factory.[7] He returned to New York City, settling in Chelsea, ManhattanThe Vulture was published in 1970 and well received. Although Scott-Heron never received hisundergraduate degree, he received a Master's degree in Creative Writing in 1972 from Johns Hopkins University. His 1972 dissertation was titled Circle of stone.[8]

Scott-Heron began his recording career in
1970 with the LP Small Talk at 125th and LenoxBob Thiele of Flying Dutchman Records produced the album, and Scott-Heron was accompanied by Eddie Knowles and Charlie Saunders on conga and David Barnes on percussion and vocals. The album's 15 tracks dealt with themes such as the superficiality of television and mass consumerism, the hypocrisy of some would-be Black revolutionaries, and white middle-class ignorance of the difficulties faced by inner-city residents. In the liner notes, Scott-Heron acknowledged as influences Richie HavensJohn ColtraneOtis ReddingJose FelicianoBillie HolidayLangston HughesMalcolm XHuey NewtonNina Simone, and the pianist who would become his long-time collaborator, Brian Jackson.
Scott-Heron's 1971 album Pieces of a Man used more conventional song structures than the loose, spoken-word feel of Small Talk. He was joined by Johnny Pate (conductor), Brian Jackson on keyboardspianoRon Carter on bass and bass guitar,drummer Bernard "Pretty" Purdie, Burt Jones playing electric guitar, and Hubert Laws on flute and saxophone, with Thiele producing again. Scott-Heron's third album, Free Will, was released in 1972. Jackson, Purdie, Laws, Knowles, and Saunders all returned to play on Free Will and were joined by Jerry Jemmott playing bassDavid Spinozza on guitar, and Horace Ott (arranger and conductor). Carter later said about Scott-Heron's voice, "He wasn’t a great singer, but, with that voice, if he had whispered it would have been dynamic. It was a voice like you would have for Shakespeare.”[5]
1974 saw another LP collaboration with Brian Jackson, the critically acclaimed opus Winter in America, with Bob Adams on drums and Danny Bowens on bass. The album contained Scott-Heron's most cohesive material and featured more of Jackson's creative input than his previous albums had. Winter in America has been regarded by many critics as the two musicians most artistic effort.[9][10] The following year, Scott-Heron and Jackson also released Midnight Band: The First Minute of a New Day. A live album, It's Your World, followed in 1976 and a recording of spoken poetry, The Mind of Gil Scott-Heron, was released in 1979. In the July 1976 Bicentennial issue of Playboy Scott-Heron was profiled; the accompanying artwork shows Scott-Heron singing or speaking into a microphone as it melts from the heat of his words.[citation needed] Another hit success followed with the hit single "Angel Dust", which he recorded as a single with producer Malcolm Cecil. "Angel Dust" peaked at #15 on the R&B charts in 1978.
In 1979, Scott-Heron played at the No Nukes concerts at Madison Square Garden. The concerts were organized by Musicians United for Safe Energy to protest the use of nuclear energyfollowing the Three Mile Island accident. Scott-Heron's song "We Almost Lost Detroit", written about a previous accident at a nuclear power plant, was included in the No Nukes album of concert highlights. (We Almost Lost Detroit is the title of a book about the accident by John G. Fuller.) Scott-Heron was a frequent critic of President Ronald Reagan and his conservative policies.[citation needed]
Scott-Heron recorded and released only four albums during the 1980s; 1980 and Real Eyes in 1980, Reflections in 1981 and Moving Target in 1982. Ron Holloway on tenor saxophonewas added to Gil's ensemble in February 1982. He toured extensively with Scott-Heron and contributed to his next album, Moving Target that same year. His tenor is prominently featured on the songs "Fast Lane" and "Black History/The World". Holloway continued with Scott-Heron until the summer of 1989, when he left to join Dizzy Gillespie. Several years later, Scott-Heron would make cameo appearances on two of Ron Holloway's CD's; Scorcher (1996) and Groove Update (1998), both on the Fantasy/Milestone label.[11]
Scott-Heron was dropped by Arista Records in 1985 and quit recording, though he continued to tour. The same year he helped compose and sang "Let Me See Your I.D." on the Artists United Against Apartheid album Sun City, containing the famous line, "The first time I heard there was trouble in the Middle East, I thought they were talking about Pittsburgh." The song compares racial tensions in the US with those in apartheid-era South Africa, implying that the US was not too far ahead in race relations. In 1993, he signed to TVT Records and releasedSpirits, an album that included the seminal track "'Message to the Messengers". The first track on the album criticized the rap artists of the day. Scott-Heron is known in many circles as "the Godfather of rap"[12][13] and is widely considered to be one of the genre's founding fathers. Given the political consciousness that lies at the foundation of his work, he can also be called a founder of political rapMessage to the Messengers was a plea for the new generation of rappers to speak for change rather than perpetuate the current social situation, and to be more articulate and artistic. Regarding hip hop music in the 1990s, he said in an interview:
They need to study music. I played in several bands before I began my career as a poet. There’s a big difference between putting words over some music, and blending those same words into the music. There’s not a lot of humor. They use a lot of slang and colloquialisms, and you don’t really see inside the person. Instead, you just get a lot of posturing.[14]
Later years
—Gil Scott-Heron

After his release, Scott-Heron began performing live again, starting with a show at "SOB's" restaurant and nightclub in New York on September 13, 2007. On stage, he stated that he and his musicians were working on a new album and that he had resumed writing a book titledThe Last Holiday, previously on long-term hiatus, about Stevie Wonder and his successful attempt to have the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. declared a federally recognized holiday in the United States.
In 2001, Scott-Heron was sentenced to one to three years' imprisonment in New York State for possession of cocaine. While out of jail in 2002, he appeared on the Blazing Arrow album byBlackalicious. He was released on parole in 2003. On July 5, 2006, Scott-Heron was sentenced to two to four years in a New York State prison for violating a plea deal on a drug-possession charge by leaving a drug rehabilitation center. Scott-Heron's sentence was to run until July 13, 2009. He was paroled on May 23, 2007.[16] The reason given for the violation of his plea deal was that the clinic refused to supply Scott-Heron with HIV medication. This story led to the presumption that the artist was HIV positive, subsequently confirmed in a 2008 interview.[17][18][19]

Scott-Heron performing at the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, 2009
On October 10, 2007, the day before a scheduled (but ultimately cancelled) second SOB's performance, he was arrested on felony possession of cocaine charges. However, he continued to make live appearances at various US venues during the course of 2008 and 2009, including further appearances at SOBs in New York. He stated in interviews that work was continuing on his new album, which would consist mainly of new versions of some of his classic songs, plus some cover versions of other artists' work. Having originally planned to publish The Last Holiday in 2003, before it was put on hold, Canongate Books now tentatively intend to issue it in January 2011. The book was due to be previewed via a website set to be launched on April 1, 2009, but this did not appear.[citation needed]
Mark T. Watson, a student of Scott-Heron's work, dedicated a collection of poetry to Gil titled Ordinary Guy that contained a foreword by Jalal Mansur Nuriddin of The Last Poets. The book was published in the UK in 2004 by Fore-Word Press Ltd. Scott-Heron recorded one of the poems in Watson's book Black & Blue due for release in 2008 as part of the album Rhythms of the Diaspora by Malik & the OG's on the record label CPR Recordings.[citation needed]
In April 2009 on BBC Radio Four, poet Lemn Sissay presented a half-hour documentary on Gil Scott-Heron entitled Pieces of a Man.[20] Having interviewed Gil Scott-Heron in New York a month earlier, Pieces of a Man was the first UK announcement from Gil of his forthcoming album and return to form. In November 2009, the BBC's Newsnight interviewed Gil Scott-Heron for a feature titled The Legendary Godfather of Rap Returns.[21] In 2009, a new Gil Scott-Heron website, gilscottheron.net, was launched with a brand new track "Where Did The Night Go" made available as a free download from the site.
Scott-Heron released his new album I'm New Here on independent label XL Recordings on February 9, 2010. Produced by XL label owner Richard Russell, I'm New Here is Scott-Heron's first studio album in sixteen years. The pair started recording the album in 2007, with the majority of the record being recorded over the last twelve months with engineer Lawson White at Clinton Studios in New York. The album attracted substantial critical acclaim with The Guardian newspaper's Jude Rogers declaring it one of the next decade's best records.[22]
The first single from the album was "Me And The Devil", which was released on February 22, 2010. It was debuted by BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe as his "Hottest Record In The World", along with other specialist DJs such as Gilles Peterson and Benji B. The album's remix, We're New Here, was released in 2011, featuring reworking by English music producer Jamie xx of material from the original album.[23] It was also very well-received by music critics.[24]
In 2010 he was due to play a gig in Tel Aviv, but this attracted criticism from Palestinian groups who stated "Your performance in Israel would be the equivalent to having performed in Sun City during South Africa’s apartheid era... We hope that you will not play apartheid Israel." In response, he cancelled the gig.[25]


Scott-Heron died on the afternoon of May 27, 2011, at St. Luke's Hospital, New York City, after becoming ill upon returning from a European trip.[1][26] Scott-Heron had confirmed previous press speculation about his health, when he disclosed in a 2008 New York Magazine interview, that he had been HIV-positive for several years, and that he had been previously hospitalized for pneumonia.[19] The cause of Scott-Heron's death has yet to be announced. He is survived by his son, Rumal Rackley, and three daughters, Raqyiyah Kelly Heron, Che Newton, and Gia from his marriage to Brenda Sykes.[27]
In response, Public Enemy's Chuck D stated "RIP GSH...and we do what we do and how we do because of you." on his Twitter account.[28] His UK publisher, Jamie Byng, called him "one of the most inspiring people I've ever met".[26] On hearing of the death, R&B singer Usher stated "I just learned of the loss of a very important poet...R.I.P., Gil Scott-Heron. The revolution will be live!!".[29] Richard Russel, who produced Scott-Heron's final studio album, called him a "father figure of sorts to me".[30] Eminem stated that "He influenced all of hip-hop".[31]


The music of Scott-Heron's work during the 1970s influenced and helped engender later African-American music genres such as hip hop and neo soul. He has been described by music writers as "the godfather of rap" and "the black Bob Dylan".[32] On his influence, a music writer later noted that "Scott-Heron's unique proto-rap style influenced a generation of hip-hop artists".[3] The Washington Post wrote that "Scott-Heron's work presaged not only conscious rap and poetry slams, but also acid jazz, particularly during his rewarding collaboration with composer-keyboardist-flutist Brian Jackson in the mid- and late '70s."[33] The Observer's Sean O'Hagan discussed the significance of Scott-Heron's music with Brian Jackson, stating:
Together throughout the 1970s, Scott-Heron and Jackson made music that reflected the turbulence, uncertainty and increasing pessimism of the times, merging the soul and jazz traditions and drawing on an oral poetry tradition that reached back to the blues and forward to hip-hop. The music sounded by turns angry, defiant and regretful while Scott-Heron's lyrics possessed a satirical edge that set them apart from the militant soul of contemporaries such as Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield.[32]
—Sean O'Hagan
Scott-Heron's influence over hip-hop is primarily exemplified by his definitive single "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," sentiments from which have been explored by various rappers, including Aesop RockTalib Kweli and Common. In addition to his vocal style, Scott-Heron's indirect contributions to rap music extend to his and co-producer Brian Jackson's compositions, which have been sampled by various hip-hop artists; among the most notable is rapper/producer Kanye West, who has sampled Scott-Heron and Jackson's "Home is Where the Hatred Is" and "We Almost Lost Detroit" for his song "My Way Home" and the single "The People," respectively, both of which are collaborative efforts between West and Common.[34] Scott-Heron, in turn, has acknowledged West's contributions, sampling the latter's 2007 single "Flashing Lights" on his latest album, 2010's I'm New Here.[35] Scott-Heron admitted ambivalence about his association with rap, remarking in 2010 in an interview for the Daily Swarm, "I don't know if I can take the blame for it", referring to rap music. He preferred the moniker of "bluesologist". Referring to reviews of his last album and references to him as the "godfather of rap", he said, "It’s something that’s aimed at the kids." He added, "I have kids, so I listen to it. But I would not say it’s aimed at me. I listen to the jazz station.”[36]
Studio albums
West named Scott-Heron, among others, as a major influence on his own latest offering, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, where portions of his work "Comment #1" appear on the album. "We Almost Lost Detroit" has also been sampled by Brand Nubian member Grand Puba ("Keep On"), Native Tongues duo Black Star ("Brown Skin Lady"), and underground notable MF DOOM ("Camphor").[37] Furthermore, Black Star MC Mos Def has sampled Scott-Heron's "A Legend in His Own Mind" on the Q-Tip-featuring song "Mr. Nigga," and producerDr. Dre (some of whose early G-Funk compositions mirror Scott-Heron's musical style in both texture and sentiment, specifically "Lil' Ghetto Boy," which in fact samples Scott-Heron contemporary Donny Hathaway) recorded the song "Blunt Time," on which former Death Row Records rapper RBX interpolates the opening lyrics from Scott-Heron's recording "Angel Dust." In 2000, CeCe Peniston as well used a sample of a Heron's song ("The Bottle") while recording her single "My Boo".


1970Small Talk at 125th and LenoxFlying Dutchman Records
1971Pieces of a ManFlying Dutchman Records
1972Free WillFlying Dutchman Records
1974Winter in AmericaStrata-East Records
1975The First Minute of a New DayArista Records
1976From South Africa to South CarolinaArista Records
1976It's Your WorldArista Records
1977BridgesArista Records
1978SecretsArista Records
19801980Arista Records
1980Real EyesArista Records
1981ReflectionsArista Records
1982Moving TargetArista Records
1994SpiritsTVT Records
2010I'm New HereXL Recordings

Live albums

1976It's Your WorldArista Records
1990Tales of Gil Scott-Heron and His Amnesia ExpressCastle Music UK/Peak Top Records
1994Minister of Information: LivePeak Top Records
2004The Best Of Gil Scott-Heron LiveIntersound
2004Tour De ForcePhantom Sound & Vision
2004Save The ChildrenDelta Music
2004Winter In America, Summer In EuropePickwick
2005Greatest Hits LiveIntersound
2008Live At The Town & Country 1988Acadia / Evangeline Records


1974The Revolution Will Not Be TelevisedFlying Dutchman
1979The Mind of Gil Scott-HeronArista Records
1984The Best of Gil Scott-HeronArista Records
1988The Revolution Will Not Be TelevisedBluebird Records
1990Glory: The Gil Scott-Heron CollectionArista Records
1998The Gil Scott-Heron Collection Sampler: 1974–1975TVT Records
1998Ghetto StyleCamden Records
1999Evolution and Flashback: The Very Best of Gil Scott-HeronRCA Records
2005Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Messages (Anthology)Soul Brother Records
2006The Best of Gil Scott-HeronSony/BMG
2010Storm Music (The Best of Gil Scott-Heron)Phantom Sound & Vision


1970The Vulture0862415284
1970Small Talk at 125th and Lenox
1972The Nigger Factory0862415276
1990So Far, So Good0883781336
2001Now and Then: The Poems of Gil Scott-Heron086241900X
2003The Last Holiday (unpublished)1841953415



  1. a b "Gil Scott-Heron, Spoken-Word Musician, Dies at 62"The Associated Press. May 28, 2011. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  2. ^ Gil Scott-Heron, Poet And Musician, Has Died Daoud Tyler-Ameen, NPR.org
  3. a b Azpiri, Jon. Review: Pieces of a ManAllmusic. Retrieved on 2009-07-31.
  4. ^ Ben Sisario, "Gil Scott-Heron, Voice of Black Culture, Dies at 62" The New York Times (May 28, 2011). Retrieved May 29, 2011
  5. a b c Alec Wilkinson, "New York is Killing Me" The New Yorker (August 9, 2010). Retrieved May 29, 2011
  6. ^ Dacks, David Pioneerring Poet: Gil Scott-Heron atExclaim! March 2010.
  7. ^ "Gil Scott-Heron Jazz Man – Biography". Home.clara.net. 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
  8. ^ "Circle of stone: a novel".
  9. ^ "allmusic {{{ Gil Scott-Heron > Discography > Main Albums }}}". All Media Guide, LLC.. Retrieved 2008-07-09.
  10. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig (1995-10-10). Spin Alternative Record Guide (Ratings 1–10) (1st edi. ed.). New York, NY: Vintage Books. pp. s. 267–268. ISBN 0-679-75574-8OCLC 32508105. Retrieved 2008-07-17. "his finest work"
  11. ^ Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
  12. ^ Feeney, John (2007-02-05). "Economic "HIS-story" à la Gil Scott-Heron Growth is Madness!". Growthmadness.org. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
  13. ^ "Gil Scott-Heron Jazz Man – Biography". Home.clara.net. 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
  14. ^ Salaam, Mtume ya, and Salaam, Kalamu ya Breath of Life Presents – Gil Scott-Heron & His Music: Reviews by Mtume ya Salaam & Kalamu ya Salaam. ChickenBones: A Journal. Retrieved on 2008-08-23.
  15. ^ "The Anger and Poetry of Gil Scott-Heron" by Fairfax New Zealand, February 10, 2010
  16. ^ "Inmate Information NYS Department of Correctional Services for Scott-Heron". Nysdocslookup.docs.state.ny.us. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
  17. ^ "Scott-Heron To Serve Time For Breaking Rehab Deal". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
  18. ^ "Genius Burning Brightly: The Unraveling of Gil Scott-Heron". Black Agenda Report. 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
  19. a b Baram, Marcus (June 22, 2008). "The Weary Blues: Hip-hop godfather Gil Scott-Heron’s out on parole, trying to stay clean, and ready for Carnegie Hall"New York Magazine. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  20. ^ "Radio 4 Programmes – Pieces of a Man". BBC. 2009-04-21. Retrieved 2011-05-28.
  21. ^ Stephen Smith (November 16, 2009). "The Legendary Godfather of Rap Returns"BBC News. Retrieved 2010-01-22.
  22. ^ Jude Rogers (November 19, 2009). "Best of the next decade: Gil Scott-Heron's I'm New Here"The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-01-22.
  23. ^ Richter, Mischa (January 28, 2011). Jamie Smith of the xx on Remixing Gil Scott-Heron, Working With Drake, New Music From the xx. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2011-02-24.
  24. ^ We're New Here Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at MetacriticMetacritic. Retrieved on 2011-02-24.
  25. ^ "US activist, poet and singer dies". Al Jazeera. May 28, 2011. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  26. a b "Gil Scott-Heron". The Telegraph. May 28, 2011. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  27. ^ "Gil Scott-Heron". The Telegraph. May 28, 2011. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  28. ^ "Gil Scott-Heron dies aged 62". NME. May 28, 2011. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  29. ^ "Soul giant Gil Scott-Heron dies". Toronto Sun. May 28, 2011. Retrieved May 28 2011.
  30. ^ "XL Recordings boss/producer: 'Gil Scott-Heron had immense talent and spirit'". NME. May 28, 2011. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  31. ^ "Gil Scott-Heron Dies Aged 62". MTV. May 28, 2011. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  32. a b O'Hagan, Sean. Gil Scott-Heron: The Godfather of Rap Comes BackThe Observer. Retrieved on 2010-02-11.
  33. ^ Harrington, Richard. "Review: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised". The Washington Post: June 30, 1998.
  34. ^ "Gil Scott-Heron"whosampled.com. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  35. ^ "Gil Scott-Heron On Coming From a Broken Home (Parts 1 & 2) Kanye West feat. Dwele and Connie Mitchell Flashing Lights"whosampled.com. Retrieved May 28, 2011.
  36. ^ Ben Sisario, "Gil Scott-Heron, Voice of Black Culture, Dies at 62" The New York Times (May 28, 2011). Retrieved May 29, 2011
  37. ^ "Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson vs Hip Hop". Samples VS. Hip Hop. 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2011-05-28.

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