Gil Scott-Heron

Gil Scott-Heron

Infobox Musical artist
Name = Gil Scott-Heron

Img_capt = Promotional photo of Gil Scott-Heron in 1973
Img_size = 245
Landscape = yes
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Gilbert Scott-Heron
Born = birth date|1949|4|01 (age 59)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died =
Instrument = Vocals, electric piano, guitar
Voice_type = Baritone
Genre = Proto-rap, soul, jazz, spoken word, jazz-funk
Occupation = Poet, singer, songwriter, author
Years_active = 1969–present
Influences = Langston Hughes, Mose Allison, John Coltrane, Malcolm X, Richie Havens, Otis Redding, Jose Feliciano,
Billie Holiday, Huey Newton, Nina Simone, Brian Jackson
Label = RCA, Flying Dutchman, Strata East, Arista, TVT Records
Associated_acts = Brian Jackson, Perpis-Fall Music, Black & Blues, Musicians United for Safe Energy
URL = []

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. [ [ Gil Scott Heron bio -] ] He is associated with African American militant activism, and is best known for his poem and song "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"; and for writing "Home is Where The Hatred Is" an eerie account of drug use that was a hit by the grammy-award winning R&B singer Esther Phillips in 1972. Scott-Heron's father, Giles "Gil" Heron (nicknamed "The Black Arrow") was a Jamaican football player who, in the 1950s, was the first ever black player to play for Glasgow's Celtic Football Club.

Early years

Gil Scott-Heron was born in Chicago, Illinois, but spent his early childhood in the home of his maternal grandmother Lillie Scott in Jackson, Tennessee. Gil's mother Bobbie Scott-Heron sang with the New York Oratorial Society. Gil's father was a professional soccer player and is also a poet. His father's family is of Jamaican descent. When he was 13, his grandmother died and he moved with his mother to the Bronx, where he enrolled in DeWitt Clinton High School. He 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 there and he was granted a full scholarship.

Scott-Heron attended Lincoln University because it was the college of choice by his biggest influence: Langston Hughes. It was at Lincoln University that Gil met Brian Jackson and they formed the band Black & Blues. After about two years at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, Scott-Heron took a year off to write a novel, "The Vulture" and "The Nigger Factory". [ [ Gil Scott-Heron Jazz Man - Biography] ] He returned to New York City, settling in Chelsea, Manhattan, which was a multiracial and multicultural neighborhood. "The Vulture" was published in 1970 and well received. Although Gil never received his undergraduate degree, he has a Masters in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University.

Recording career

Scott-Heron began his recording career in 1970 with the LP "Small Talk at 125th & Lenox". Bob 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, white middle-class ignorance of the difficulties faced by inner-city residents, and fear of homosexuals. In the liner notes, Scott-Heron acknowledged as influences Richie Havens, John Coltrane, Otis Redding, Jose Feliciano, Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Nina 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 (piano and electric piano), Ron Carter (bass and electric bass), Bernard "Pretty" Purdie (drums), Burt Jones (electric guitar), and Hubert Laws (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 (bass), David Spinozza (guitar), and Horace Ott (arranger and conductor).

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.cite web |url= |title=allmusic { Gil Scott-Heron > Discography > Main Albums } |publisher=All Media Guide, LLC. |accessdate=2008-07-09] cite book |last=Weisbard |first=Eric |coauthors=Marks, Craig |title=Spin Alternative Record Guide (Ratings 1-10) |edition=1st edi. |url= |format=HTML |accessdate=2008-07-17 |publisher=Vintage Books |location=New York, NY |date=1995-10-10 |isbn=0679755748 |oclc=32508105 |doi= |id= |pages=pgs. 267-268 |quote="his finest work"] The following year, Scott-Heron and Jackson also released "". 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. 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 energy following the Three Mile Island accident. Scott-Heron's song "We Almost Lost Detroit", written about a previous accident at a nuclear facility, was included in the "No Nukes" album of concert highlights. During the 1980s, Scott-Heron continued recording, releasing "Reflections" in 1981 and "Moving Target" in 1982. Scott-Heron was a frequent critic of President Ronald Reagan and his conservative policies.

Scott-Heron was dropped by Arista Records in 1985 and quit recording, though he continued to tour. He also appeared in the Sun City (album) track, "Let Me See Your ID" in 1985. In 1993, he signed to TVT Records and released "Spirits", an album that included the seminal track "Message to the Messengers". The first track on the album was criticized the rap artists of the day. Scott-Heron is known in many circles as "the godfather of rap" [ [ Economic “his-story” à la Gil Scott-Heron « Growth is Madness! ] ] [ [ Gil Scott-Heron Jazz Man - Biography ] ] 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 rap. "Message 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:

Later years

In 2001, Gil Scott-Heron was sentenced to one to three years' imprisonment in New York State for cocaine possession. While out of jail in 2002, he appeared on the "Blazing Arrow" album by Blackalicious. 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 treatment center. Scott-Heron said he is HIV-positive and claimed the in-patient rehabilitation center stopped giving him his medication. Scott-Heron's sentence was to run until July 13, 2009. He was paroled on May 23, 2007. [ [ Inmate Information»NYS Department of Correctional Services ] ]

He has since begun performing live again, starting with a show at SOBs 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 titled "The Last Holiday" (previously on long-term hiatus) about Stevie Wonder and his successful attempt to have Martin Luther King's birthday made a national holiday in the USA. Gil was arrested October 10, the day before a second SOBs performance scheduled for October 11, 2007, on felony possession of cocaine charges. However, he has continued to make live appearances at various US venues during the course of 2008, including further appearances at SOBs in New York. He has also stated in interviews that work is continuing on his new album, which will consist mainly of new versions of some of his classic songs plus some cover versions of other artists' work.

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. Gil recorded one of the poems in Mark T. 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.




* "Black Wax" (1982). Directed by Robert Mugge.

ee also

* Langston Hughes
* The Last Poets
* The Watts Prophets
* Jazz poetry
* Mark T. Watson


External links

* [ Gil Scott-Heron] at Discogs
* [ Gil Scott-Heron french website]
* [ BBC biography of Gil Scott-Heron]
* [ Malcolm X, Gil Scott-Heron and Stevie Wonder (speeches, discographies and lyrics)]
* [ Gil Scott-Heron: Portrait of a Jazz Man]
* [ Text of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"]
* [ Audio of "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"]
* [ Fore-Word Press Ltd.]
* [ Interview with Gil Scott-Heron] , December 11, 2007

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