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There is great honor in being a bridge over troubled water. But Scott-Heron was most

assuredly more than a bridge. He flowed to somewhere with the 1990 poetry collection

So Far. So Good.  He was a brilliant artist much attuned to layers of culture and emotion



CDs by Gil-Scott Heron

From South Africa To South Carolina (1976)  Winter In America (1974)  / Pieces Of A Man (1971) / The First Minute Of A New Day

The Mind Of Gil Scott-Heron  /  Moving Target

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Books by Gil-Scott Heron

 The Vulture and The Nigger Factory / Small Talk At 125th And Lenox  / So Far. So Good  / Now and Then

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Remembrances of Poet Gil Scott Heron

By Jerry W. Ward Jr., et al


Death and Life of Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

By Jerry W. Ward, Jr.

Death takes you to an unfamiliar place, to narrative knowing and the science of the human.


A man’s death is an algorithm for inquiry.  Is it an accident that James Cherry sent you his most recent book, Still A Man and Other Stories, from Jackson, TN?  Gil Scott-Heron sang “I need to go home and slow down in Jackson, Tennessee” on the cut “New York Is Killing Me (I’m New Here: Gil Scott-Herron).  Howard Rambsy, who is from Jackson, TN, wrote a blurb for Cherry’s second collection of poems, Honoring the Ancestors (2008) which includes “Homecoming (for Gil Scott-Heron)” and a history-informed blog “Gil Scott’s Role in Untelevised Revolution.”  Scott-Heron honored his musical ancestor Robert Johnson with a dark remake of Johnson’s “Me and the Devil” just as Esther Phillip, out of the authority of her own tragedies, paid tribute to Scott-Heron with her cover of “Home is where the hatred is.”  With the exception of Johnson, any of these people might have been influenced by Langston Hughes’s Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz (1961). Nanoseconds of death and life are not exactly accidents.

If it were the case that the only poem Scott-Heron could be known for was “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (1970), I would still claim he is one of the bridges the Black Arts Movement crossed over on as it went to hiphopland.  There is great honor in being a bridge over troubled water. But Scott-Heron was most assuredly more than a bridge. He flowed to somewhere with the 1990 poetry collection So Far. So Good.  He was a brilliant artist much attuned to layers of culture and emotion as he testified in the 2009 Reelblack interview “Definition of a Poet (R.I.P.)” as the deepest core of his humanity broke through the tragic record of his face. 

A man’s face is an enigma; his spirit, a truth. The power of “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” overshadows Arrested Development’s “Revolution” as it was used in Spike Lee’s Malcolm X (1992), especially when one compares such cuts as “Tennessee” and “Mama’s Always on Stage” from the group’s album 3 Years, 5 months and 2 days in the Life of (1992) with Scott-Heron’s “Johannesburg” (1975).  Film can murder the effectiveness of sounding by changing the context for reception.  And one must note that Spike Lee virtually deconstructed how misused a word “revolution” is by cinematizing the televising of a revolting revolutionary act in the “Dance of Death” scene in Bamboozled (2000). 

We must weigh carefully the difference between Scott-Heron’s affirmative, tradition-rooted utterance of “revolution” for an audience in revolt in the 1970s and Lee’s effective and satiric  unmasking of minstrelsy thirty years later for a post-soul audience romanced by the “gangsta” music industry.  History matters. It also matters that we hear Arrested Development’s “Tennessee” as an ecological gloss on Scott-Heron’s life and Scott-Heron’s debut album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox (Flying Dutchman Records 1970).  He was a man of his times when he included both “Who’ll Pay Reparations on My Soul” and “The Subject Was Faggots” on the record.

An algorithm for cultural inquiry led you to post on Rodger Kamenetz’s Facebook wall—“Rodger, I never met Scott-Heron, but his art and ethos have influenced my creative efforts.”  And Kamenetz replied: “Hi Jerry.  Good to know.  Can you or will you write an appreciation here or elsewhere?  I only knew him as a ‘classmate’ and sometimes hung out a little when he was young and beautiful, tall and pretty aloof.  It was 72-73.  He was at Hopkins doing the MA at the Writing Seminars but pretty quickly he stopped coming to class.  He was just getting on to the music thing then.”  And you post back—“I may write a short piece soon.”  Kamenetz has jogged your memory.  Gil Scott-Heron published novels—The Vulture (1970) and The Nigger Factory (1972).  They seem to have escaped literary historical commentary.

Facebook has displaced face-to-face inspiration for writing appreciations or criticisms or anything else.  Dread stabs you.  You worry that old rituals of humanity, old ways of communicating the respect of condolence, have vanished.  Your options for making peace with acknowledging Gil Scott-Heron’s transition have dwindled. You can’t swim against the tide.  On your own Facebook wall you have posted the New York Times obituary with the remark: “Another winter/summer in America moment.”  You posted “Winter in America” (1990 version) with the obscure political comment “And no one shall be happy ‘til we witness a flaming spring/fall in Saudi Arabia.”  You listened to “Angel Dust” and posted it with the comment “Dreadful dust corked American in a bottle/threw it under the cosmic bus.” 

And you had to post “The Message” (1982) by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, just as you had to check your library shelves to be sure the lyrics for “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” are followed by the lyrics for “The Message” (pages 61-65) in the first edition of The Norton Anthology of African American Literature (1997). Your hunger for old-fashioned respect, necessitated by your admiration for Gil Scott-Heron’s sacrifice for civil and human rights in Jackson, TN in 1962, is satisfied only by reading Tony Bolden’s excellent essay “Blue/Funk as Political Philosophy: The Poetry of Gil Scott-Heron” in The Funk Era and Beyond: New Perspectives on Black Popular Culture (Palgrave 2008) and Bolden’s Chapter 22 “Cultural Resistance and Avant-Garde Aesthetics: African American Poetry from 1970 to the Present” in The Cambridge History of African American Literature (2011). 

For dessert, you consume a sentence from Aldon Lynn Nielsen’s Black Chant: Languages of African-American Postmodernism (Cambridge University Press 1997): “For all his virtues as an eloquent, and even elegant communicator, however, Scott-Heron was not a proponent of revolutionary formal experimentation in verse…” (190). Well, if you could play Bob Kaufman’s cranial guitar as well as Gil Scott-Heron did, not promoting page-bound innovation is a cardinal virtue.  Music and Scott-Heron’s mastery of sound was a far better way of awakening sleepers in the public space of the American mind. Amen.

29 May 2011

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Remembering Gil with Love, One of Your Daughters

By Jessica Care Moore


I'd just hung up the phone with a revolutionary sister/abolitionist in the fight against the death penalty, when my friend sent me the text that Gil Scott had passed. I literally gasped for air. I'm just home from New Orleans where I spent a weekend with one of my other fathers in poetry, Abiodun Oyewole and was able to hang and laugh with another one of my elders, Kalamu ya Salaam. I remember years ago being on a panel in Atlanta with some other poets of my generation, and someone ignorantly suggested that talking about the literary and spoken word greats that came before us, was "name dropping." 

That's how lost we've become.  I called Dun, and Umar first. I searched my cell for Sonia's number. I started to wonder how long it'd been since I’d seen Jayne Cortez. I smiled because I’ve seen Ntozake so many times this year. I thought of Haki and how generous he's been to me and my son. I cry hard, uncontrollably. 

I just found an essay about poetry and the new marketing of "spoken word" I wrote in 1999. I was the first poet in residence at University of Mass, Dartmouth. I was only 27. I was so serious, about my work, and the work of our generations poets. In 1999 I was making a good living as a poet, lecturer, and young book publisher.  There was no Def Poetry. The poets I was around were connected to a continuum and didn't focus on "blowing up."  

I'd won the Apollo and a hand full of us was attempting to make the connection between our poetic ancestors, and the living legends.  Only a few of us were making a living as poets, or poet/teachers/performers:  Me, Saul (Williams), Paul Beatty, Reg E Gaines, Tony Medina, Carl Hancock Rux, Ras Baraka, Tracie Morris, Ursula Rucker, Willie Perdomo,  asha bandele, Suheir Hammad, Kevin Powell..there are more.  We understood there was a Black Canon, and we wanted in. 

Of course I knew Gil. We all knew him, and he knew us too.  I have some great memories of him. I remember The Village Voice doing a photo shoot with us in the late nineties. It was me, Gil and Sarah Jones. We were all wrapped in yellow police tape in front of Wetlands.  I need to find the article.  Gil was always so loving, and his smile was electric. His voice was black music and we could see the fine, fiery, young revolutionary in the hearts of his eyes.   

One of my favorite Gil stories is when a Hip Hop magazine asked me to debate a poet about whether poetry was hip hop or not. I was on the "YES" side, and was later told I would be debating with Gil. When Gil found out the poet was me, he turned down the article and said he wouldn't debate against me, because I was his sister, and we were on the same side. So, whatever I was saying about poetry and hip hop, he would likely agree. 

It was an amazing moment for me. He was so grounded despite his legendary status, and even seconds before he would go on stage, he would just be kicking it with whoever was around. He was daddy cool. A warm, gentle spirit. Our unfiltered blues. No matter what he seemed to be going through health wise, I never saw him waiver on stage. When he hit the mic or touched the keys, it was magic and it transformed the room.

One of my last shows with Gil Scott was at SOB's. We hit there together, along with Roy Ayers a few times.

That's when I’d formed my band, Detroit Read, in NYC,  and was busy  following in the footsteps of the  Word, Sound Power Movement, much like, poets, Sharrif Simmons, (who carries his likeness and sound), Carl Hancock Rux,  Mike Ladd,  Saul Williams, Dante (Mos Def),  Latasha Natasha, Liza Jesse Peterson,  and others. Not every poet was comfortable surrounded by afro-electric rock and roll soul-amplification, but some of us, lived for it and still do. 

A few years ago I filled in for him at Western Michigan when he didn't show up for a gig. When I spoke to the student organizer and realized his birthday was just the night before   I laughed and said, "Now you know you weren't supposed to book him after a party day like that!"

Gil dying so young, reminds me of how we must take care of ourselves on every level. We cannot lead a revolution if we can't run to the corner. We must heal mental illnesses, eat healthy foods and raise our children fully aware of who they are in relationship to the world.  

Gil was loved by the world, and sometimes revered, like many of us, in foreign countries, more than the country we were born into.  Our babies must know his music, his books. We cannot continue to allow mediocre mainstream artists who don't educate our minds or challenge the status quo, to be the most celebrated. 

There is a beauty in having a cult following. When young people have memorized my poems better than me, when I don't have a major marketing machine beyond my work, it feels even more powerful. 

Still, we need Gil and Gil's poetic children, to not be "outsiders," anymore. We are the forebears of truth, of culture. Too "radical" to be invited, but always the artists with the most relevant and provocative work. The artists who should be "invited" and "celebrated" are the ones I know who do work in the prisons, fight to teach in the schools, and write and speak truth to power. 

Gil found the balance between the page and stage line I have walked for years. I will continue doing this work, and shouting his name and teaching his work and grace, the rest of my artistic life. 

Gil is/was revolutionary music. Gil is/was style and integrity. Gil is/was our teacher.

Gil Scott's voice will forever live.  

I will "name drop" him for centuries to come  



lover of his people



warrior of words 



harlem smile and gansta lean 



pointed his weapon in the right direction



re-wrote the dictionary 



gave me wings 



knew we almost lost Detroit



is poetry in a bottle.



is laughter and harlem sunsets


Gil is soul unleashed

Gil is rebellion

Gil continues

Gil ancestor 

talking with langston 

hugging lucille 

deconstructing american 

schizophrenia with Ai 

playing cards with Pac

writing more poems 

watching us attempt to 

outlive our circumstances.

another day.


Love you. Miss you. 

It was an honor to share the stage with you. To learn from you.

To know you. 

In solidarity and poems . . .

28 May 28 2011   

Source: Facebook

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Gil Scott's Role in an Untelevised Revolution

By Howard Rambsy


With the passing of Gil Scott-Heron [1949-2011], we're certain to hear about his wonderful career as a poet and musician over the coming days, weeks . . . years. As we should.  But there's another story that relates to "Scotty," as his childhood friends in Jackson, Tennessee, where he was raised, used to call him.  On January 25, 1962, Gil Scott-Heron and two other students were sent by their guardians to Tigrett Junior High School, effectively desegregating the school, and later by extension the school system.  I know what you're asking. Hadn't the Supreme Court declared in that 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education that it was unconstitutional to segregate public schools? Yep, but listen: some of these Southern towns don't care about your fancy laws and equality and constitution.

I heard about Scotty as one of those three students who helped desegregate the schools before I became aware of his talents and many contributions as a poet and musician. Well, in a way, I heard about his very early years as a musician because he took piano lessons with my aunt when adolescent growing up in Jackson. The schools in Jackson, where I was raised, did not officially become desegregated until the early 1990s. I was just starting high school at the time.  It was in the 1962, after Gil Scott-Heron and others went to Tigrett, that got black folks unofficially attending more than just the black schools.  

When the older folks who really helped change the system reflected on things at the time of official desegregation in the early 1990s, they'd mention this guy Scotty, along with his classmates such as Brenda Moses and Madeline Walker who were the first black students to go to the white schools. I've been switching back and forth saying Gil Scott-Heron and Scotty, as I spoke with my aunt early today about him. She, like all his other friends in Jackson, only knew him as Scotty.  In 1963, Lille Scott, his grandmother died, and so Scotty left Jackson and moved to New York City with his mother. Scotty was then on the road to becoming "the" Gil Scott-Heron. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Source: SIUEB

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Gil Scott-Heron was more than the 'Godfather of Rap'

Excerpts by Earl Ofari Hutchinson


29 May 2011

The irony is that Heron took great pains to distance himself from many of the rap artists that purportedly were influenced by him. He decried their resort to shock, demeaning, and degrading lyrics and words, and their lust for the bling and opulence, at the expense of socially grounded and edgy lyrics that blasted oppression and injustice.

Heron 's true importance and legacy was that he was the textbook liberated spirit, a musical social and political griot who refused to compromise or tone down his scathing political attacks on the establishment. Heron didn't just hector, pick at and tweak the establishment to protest racism and the struggles against injustice. He was a thought provoking musical educator. And nothing was off limits. He railed at the pardon of Richard Nixon on "We Beg Your Pardon." He lashed out at government lies, deceit and corruption in the Watergate scandal on ""H2O Gate Blues."

He was outraged at the murder of Jose Campos Torres, an army vet murdered by two Houston police officers, on "Jose Campos Torres." He took a shot at the spending on space exploration with so many problems on Earth on "Space Shuttle." He mocked America's bicentennial hoopla in 1976 on "Bicentennial Blues." He lambasted prison abuses following the Attica prison uprising on "The Prisoner."

His landmark album Winter in America was at both a grim, bitter, look at racial and political oppression in America and optimistic call for the forces of hope and change to renew the struggle against it. His equally signature From South Africa To South Carolina forcefully and brilliantly linked the struggles of African and African-Americans against apartheid, racism, colonialism and neo-colonialism. To Heron, the struggles were one and the same. The oppressor was one and the same, and those struggling against it shared a common bond.

The other mark of Heron's genius was that he did not just wage a bitter lyrical battle against the purveyors of oppression. He did it with style, wit, and humor. There was a sort of impishness in his satirizing and poking fun at everyone from Nixon to the mainstream civil rights leaders of the day.TheGrio

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Gil Scott-Heron was the bridge between The Black Arts Movement and Hip Hop. Surely we are from Allah and to Him we return.—Marvin X

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R. I. P. Gil Scott-Heron

By Junious Ricardo Stanton


The military and the monetary they get together whenever they think it’s necessary. They are turning our brothers and sisters into mercenaries and they are turning the planet into a cemetery.—Gil Scott Heron from his song “Working For Peace”

For me a really relaxing Saturday is to be able to listen to Felix Hernandez’ Rhythm Review program on Newark New Jersey’s WBGO from 10 AM to 2 PM over the Internet. This Saturday when he came on the first thing Felix said was that iconic poet, spoken word artist, vocalist and musician Gil Scott-Heron had made transition the day before on Friday May 27th. Realizing the importance of Gil Scott-Heron to the cultural scene Hernandez altered his planned show and interspersed Heron’s music throughout the program. I had been out of town from Thursday afternoon until Friday night so when I looked at my e-mails there were a ton of messages from all types of folks about the passing of Gil Scott Heron. Some featured links to corporatist media that mentioned his passing but I noticed so many who framed the story in the context of his struggle with drug addiction and HIV. Several were down right demeaning to him.

I e-mailed Neil Blake the founder of the Blake Radio Network a pioneer in Internet radio who at one time had one of the most popular radio stations on the Internet, his talk station Rainbow Soul and his music station Music Massage. I do a show on Rainbow Soul called the Cyberspace Sanctuary and I used to do a music program on Music Massage called Message in the Music. I asked Neil if he was interested in doing a tribute to Gil Scott-Heron. He said go for it. I had some things to do Saturday evening but I began thinking about what form the show would take, which poems and songs I would feature.

Artists like The Last Poets, Gil Scott Heron, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Curtis Mayfield, Richie Havens, Tracie Chapman and Bob Marley were the inspiration for the creation of my Message in the Music radio show. When I had my show Positively Black on WHAT in the 1990s I would always start the show with a song or positive message. When I started doing Internet radio I carried that habit over to the various programs I produced and hosted on the stations I was on.  I used a lot of Gamble and Huff’s Philly International material on the shows and the theme of my Blake radio music show was the song “Message in the Music” by the O’Jays. But over the years Gil Scott-Heron was the one artist I used on a regular basis. In fact he and Stevie Wonder were the only two artists I devoted an entire program to playing their music on several occasions. Of course when a famous artist like James Brown, Miriam Mekeba, Isaac Hayes, and Levi Stubs passed I did special tributes to them.

I never met Gil Scott-Heron. I did see him perform thanks to Everett Staten at one of his Black Expos. I was in North Carolina once at the National Black Theatre Festival and he was supposed to perform at a small club but it was sold out so I didn’t get the chance to see him. On another occasion he was scheduled to appear at a venue close by but he had just been arrested and sentenced to jail.

Like many talented people with keen insight into the real deal about this country Gil Scott-Heron was plagued with issues because he used his art to wake people up as he pulled the covers off the lies, myths, and okey-doke propagated by America. Like most visionaries and reformers he was chastised for being authentic which can be a difficult burden to bare in a society based upon lies and deceit. Of course he alone was responsible for his life choices but in a way his struggles made him more valuable as an artist. It’s chillingly ironic that Gil Scott Heron is credited with being a major influence on Rap and Hip Hop yet commercial  Hip Hop and Rap have devolved into the very pathologies Scott-Heron railed against in his poetry and songs.

Listen to his song “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” about the trials of a junkie trying to deal with his habit or the devastating lure and draw of alcohol in “The Bottle,” or his poems “Whitey on the Moon” and “Billy Green Is Dead” about the dichotomy of priorities between the white establishment and the least of us in a society of disproportional wealth distribution. These pieces along with songs like “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” “Johannesburg,” “Message to the Messengers,” “Show Bizness,” and “When You Are Who You Are” are quantum leaps beyond the mindless clap trap and degenerate drivel of today’s commercial Hip Hop.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Gil Scott-Heron for being courageous enough to continue to create the kind of poetry and music he did, despite the backlash of white America and comatose Negroes. He kept on keepin’ on in spite of the refusal of radio stations even the so called black ones to play his material. But those of us who listened to him appreciated his truth, his way of exposing the system like in: “King Alfred Plan,” “Ain’t No New Thing,” “The Get Out of the Ghetto Blues” and one of my favorites “The Gun.” We understood him when he held up a mirror to our own foolishness like in “Brother” and “Legend in His Own Mind.”  

Heron was a profound artist with his finger on the pulse of our lives as you will readily grasp listening to: “Message to the Messengers,” “New York City,” “Madison Avenue” and “Save the Children.” I don’t have enough time to play all of his poems and songs but I will give the listeners an ample sampling of his works. I’ll also do a tribute to him on my Harambee Radio show The Digital Underground Log onto HarambeeRadio  and check it out on the Ondemand channel or go to BlakeRadio  and listen for the Gil Scott Heron tribute on Music Massage. Pardon the shameless plugs. I hope there will be a resurgence of interest in his work that is if the mind control apparatus doesn’t further besmirch his reputation but even if they do, Black folks will appreciate him even more and say a sincere prayer for Gil Scott-Heron to Rest In Peace.

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Gil Scott Heron R.I.P.

Excerpts by Greg Tate

Gil described himself best as a "Bluesologist," a Hegelian-cum-African student of the science of "how things feel." Thus the vast emotional range in Gil's writings—why the existential consequences of getting high and the resultant pathos could move that stuttering vibrato to emphatic song same as the prospect of South African liberation could. We call Gil a prophet, but most prophets don't prophesy their own 40-year slow-death with the precision, poignancy and nuance he did on "Home Is Where the Hatred Is," "The Bottle" and "Angel Dust."

Gil was better than most rappers because he leaned as hard on his vulnerability as other muhfuhkuhs lean on their glocks, AK's and dogged-out bitches, real or rhetorically imagined. His potency as a balladeer is vastly underrated compared to the shine shown his protest vehicles. If you yearn to hear your nutsack glorified, there are reams of lyrics ready to handily fulfil your manly needs. But the dude who needs a song allaying fears that his failure at marriage will cost him his children can only turn to "Your Daddy Loves You." I don't know what Gil's relationship to he and Brenda Sykes' only daughter Gia Scott-Heron was in his twilight-zone years, I just know that song owns the fraught distraught father-to-daughter communiqué category in the blues canon.

Even his most topical protest songs are too packed with feeling and flippancy to become yesterday's news, though—mostly because Gil's way with a witticism keeps even his Nixon assault vehicle "H20Gate Blues" current. Gil's genius for soundbites likewise sustains his relevance.

We'd all rather believe the revolution won't be televised than hear what he really envisioned beneath the bravado—that we may be too consumed with hypercapitalist consumption to care. And damn if we don't keep almost losing Detroit, and damn if even post-Apartheid we are all still very much wondering "What's the word?" from Johannesburg. And in this moment of The Arab Spring we may "hate it when the blood starts flowing" but still "love to see resistance showing."

"No-Knock" and "Whitey on the Moon " remain cogent masterpieces of satire, observation and metaphor. "Winter in America" is hands-down Gil at his most grandiloquent and "literary" as a lyricist, standing with Sly's “There's A Riot Going On” (and the memoirs of Panthers Elaine Brown and David Hilliard) as the most bleak, blunt and beatific EKG readings of their post-revolutionary generation's post-traumatic stress disorders. "All of the healers have been killed or betrayed . . . and ain't nobody fighting because nobody knows what to save."

Source: VillageVoice

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Protest poet was more than "The Revolution”

Excerpts by Courtland Milloy


31 May 2011

Back in 2009, I did a telephone interview with the black protest poet Gil Scott-Heron in Harlem and then wrote a column about his thoughts on music, his health problems and his legal troubles. What I didn’t include were the feelings he’d expressed about love, friendship and happiness. . . . I know his son, Rumal Rackley, now 34, who graduated from Hampton University in 1999. Rumal’s mother, Lurma Rackley, is a friend and writer living in Atlanta. He also has three daughters from other relationships: Raqyiyah Kelly Heron, 34, who lives in New York; Gia Scott-Heron, 31, of Los Angeles; and Chegianna Newton, 13, who lives in London and goes by the name Che, after the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara. . . .

Although Scott-Heron was living in New York, he’d spent his most productive years in the District—from 1972 to 1985—and performed often at Blues Alley in Georgetown. He’d received a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and taught creative writing at what is now the University of the District of Columbia.

This year’s D.C. Poetry festival, to be held in August, has been renamed in his honor. His fans have launched a campaign to honor him posthumously with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. . . .  “He wanted nothing; he lived very simple ... but I think he would have loved to receive it,” Charlotte Fox, a close friend and former student of Scott-Heron’s, wrote in an e-mail. Laughter was high on his list of favorites.

Asked his age, Scott-Heron deadpanned: “I’m as old as I’ve ever been before.” And when the chuckles subsided, he added, “Every once in a while, you live long enough to get the respect that people didn’t want to give while you were trying to become a senior citizen.” At least Scott-Heron lived long enough for that. Much to his delight, his music has been embraced by a new generation of griot-poets, such as Kanye West and Common.

And guess what song ended up being used on some social networking sites as a soundtrack for the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt? Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Turned out, the revolution was more Facebooked and Twittered. How prophetic. Said Scott-Heron back in 2009, “I’m experiencing a revival without even being revived.”

Source: WashingtonPost

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Services Set for Gil Scott-Heron, Tributes Pour In

Excerpts by Patrice Gaines


31 May 2011

A memorial service has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Riverside Church in New York City for poet-musician-teacher-singer Gil Scott-Heron, who died last Friday in New York at the age of 62. A public viewing also is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home at 81st Street and Madison Avenue. . . . A.L. Nielson, English professor at Pennsylvania State University, took two creative writing courses from Scott-Heron at Federal City College in Washington, D.C. (now part of the University of the District of Columbia) in the early ‘70s and he said Scott-Heron left “a remarkable legacy.”

“The first class, there were hardly any students. By the second, people had an idea who he was and it was full. He was a year and a half older than me and he had written one novel, one poetry book and had three LPs. He already had his master’s from Johns Hopkins. What impressed me was the incredible range of literature he knew. Also, he was interested in pop modern writing. I think he was one of the best creative writing teachers I’ve seen and I’ve seen a lot of them. People forget what a good literary writer he was. You don’t find him in many anthologies, but he was a good poet.”

“We don’t want to just see him as a guy on stage. No, he was a teacher, a songwriter. . . . He was multi-talented,” said E. Ethelbert Miller, a poet and writer and board chair for the Institute for Policy Studies. “That’s why I say on my blog I hope Gil Scott-Heron will be televised as a full man and not reduced to pieces of a man.”

Source: BlackAmericaWeb

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Gil Scott-Heron Has Left Us . . . I will miss this brother's voice. Thanks to Sandra Beasley, I was able to see him at Blues Alley several months ago. We had a chance to chat. I remember(decades ago) hanging out with him one day near Dupont Circle. Every word out of his mouth was a poem. Gil was a combination of wit and genius.  Talented and maybe cursed. I would like to believe he was never reduced to "pieces of a man." Where would all the black poets be today if not for Gil? He was not a last poet but someone who came before. If there is Spoken Word today - it's because in many ways he spoke the first word. I hope the complete life of Gil Scott-Heron will be televised. There is much we can learn from it.—Ethelbert Miller

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Many people may not be aware that Gil wrote as many ballads as he did, after all Gil was often characterized as fiercely political but he also wrote some of the most tender love songs you ever want to hear. In a couple of cases, most notably “Morning Thoughts” Gil was the master of merging the personal and the political in ways that seamlessly transitioned from romance to revolution within three minutes or less.

Finally, I had a not so obvious goal in mind. In this time of mourning and grief about Gil’s transition from the land of the living, I wanted to put together a Mixtape that encourages us to be optimistic about our ability to create a better world, our ability to live better and more beautiful lives. Gil had the ability to be serious without being grim, to come hard and at the same time be funny as hell. I wanted to put listeners in a reflective mood that hopefully would encourage and inspire action.

I believe we should celebrate and commemorate Gil Scott-Heron not only by listening to his music but also by making this world a better place—a place of peace, sincerity, and of humane resolution of inevitable social contradictions.

The last time I saw Gil Scott-Heron in New Orleans was at the Essence Festival, I believe it was July 2008. I went mainly because I thought that might be my last chance to see him perform. Reviews and photographs from that period were not encouraging about both his health and the quality of his performances (or, for that matter, even showing up for a scheduled gig). While that performance was not the best of Gil Scott-Heron and the set-up in what was called the Super-lounge (there was no seating, so you had to stand, and as you might imagine, it’s hard to "lounge" standing up) was not conducive to a relaxed set, still Gil was in good spirits and the performance was much, much better than I expected.

The last time I saw Gil perform was March 2010 at the National Black Writers Conference in Brooklyn, New York. Talib Kweli opened the show, and Gary Bartz was a back up musician for Gil. Although the set was short, Gil was great. And now a year later he’s gone. Gil gifted us with a cornucopia of beautiful music, vibrant, meaningful, inspirational sounds and vibrations. Through his recorded music, yesterday, today and tomorrow, Gil lives. Gil Scott-Heron lives.—
Kalamu ya Salaam

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The Funk Era and Beyond

New Perspectives on Black Popular Culture

Edited by Tony Bolden

Paying homage to the ancestors (Jean Toomer, Zora Neale Hurston, Professor Longhair), sitting at the feet of the elders (George Clinton, Sly Stone, James Brown) and welcoming a brand new generation of griots headed by funkmaster Aaron McGruder, The Funk Era and Beyond fills the largest remaining gap in the conversation on African-American music. Bolden's collection is theoretically sophisticated, endlessly provocative and, best of all, a joy to read.”—Craig Werner, Professor and Chair, Department of Afro-American Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race & the Soul of America

This engaging book takes the reader on a journey across the multi-layered and multidisciplinary terrain of funk. This series of essays on music and the visual and literary arts reveal how ‘da funk’ represents innovation and aesthetic principles rooted in the Black vernacular, which defines the uniqueness of Black creativity. The Funk Era and Beyond is a must-read to understand funk as a philosophy, an attitude, a way of life, and more broadly, a cultural phenomena.—Portia K. Maultsby, Indiana University and editor of African American Music: An Introduction  

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The Funk Era and Beyond

New Perspectives on Black Popular Culture

Edited by Tony Bolden

Table of Contents

I. Prelude from the Funkmaster * Sly Stone and the Sanctified Church--Mark Anthony Neal *

II. Introduction * Theorizing the Funk: An Introduction--Tony Bolden *

III. Inside the Funk Shop: Writings on the Funk Band Era *A Philosophy of Funk: The Politics and Pleasure of a Parliafunkadelicment Thang!—Amy Nathan Wright * James Brown: Icon of Black Power—Rickey Vincent * "The Land of Funk": Dayton, Ohio--Scot Brown * From the Crib to the Coliseum: An Interview with Bootsy Collins—Thomas Sayers Ellis *

IV. Impressions: Funkativity and Visual Art * Cane Fields, Blues Text-ure: An Improvisational—Karen Ohnesorge * Good Morning Blues—Maurice Bryan * Shine2.0: Aaron McGruder's Huey Freeman as Contemporary Folk Hero—Howard Rambsy II *

V. Funkintelechy: (Re)cognizing Black Writing *Alabama—Aldon Nielsen * Jazz Aesthetics and the Revision of Myth in Leon Forrest's There Is a Tree More Ancient than Eden—Dana Williams * Living the Funk: Lifestyle, Lyricism, and Lessons in—Carmen Phelps * Modern and Contemporary Art of Black Women * Cultural Memory in Zora Neale Hurston's Mules and Men Ondra Krouse-Dismukes*

VI. Imagine That: Fonky Blues Rockin and Rollin * Funkin' with Bach: The Impact of Professor Longhair on Rock'n'Roll—Cheryl L. Keys * Blue/Funk as Political Philosophy: The Poetry of
Gil Scott-Heron—Tony Bolden

Tony Bolden is Associate Professor of African American Literature and Culture, University of Alabama and is the author of Afro-Blue:Improvisations in African American Poetry and Culture

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The 10 Best Gil Scott-Heron Songs

By Michael A. Gonzales


1. "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" (1971)

While the bare-bones original version was recorded live as a spoken-word poem on Gil's gritty first album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, the song was later re-recorded with a full band that brought the funk and the flutes. Years later, Nike jacked the instrumental track and made the revolution about basketball with KRS-One rockin' the mic, which somehow just proved Gil's point all over again.

2. "Pieces of a Man" (1971)

The title track to Gil's debut studio album was a fitting ode to broken Black men dealing with their issues. Former Rolling Stone critic Vince Aletti wrote that Heron sang with an ache in his voice that conveys pain, bitterness and tenderness. He wasn't lying.

3. "Home is Where The Hatred Is" (1971)

Funky as hell, this sad tale of a junkie roaming the urban landscape of Any Ghetto, U.S.A. prophesied Heron's own cracked-out existence two decades later. As Kanye West proved when he sampled the track on Common's "My Way Home," this track still feels just as powerful as it did more than forty years after its release.

4. "H20 Blues" (1974)

Recorded at D&B Sound studio outside of Washington, D.C—where Gil and musical partner Brian Jackson dwelled—this song was an aural attack on the scandalous politicians who populated his home turf. Aimed directly at Tricky Dick Nixon and his crew of crooked cronies, this Watergate-era song dropped the bomb.

5. "The Bottle" (1974)

Although Scott-Heron produced innovative music throughout his career, he wasn't exactly a "singles" kind of guy. Still, this track about the the evils of drunkenness managed to climb to No. 15 on the R&B charts in 1974. While the song's lyrics were serious as a pint of cheap gin, with its island groove and dope flute solo (courtesy of Brian Jackson) it was also quite danceable. According to music biz legend, the success of this track inspired Clive Davis to sign Scott-Heron to his newly formed Arista Records.

6. "Angel Dust" (1978

In the mid-1970s, a few years before the crack attack that ate New York City, angel dust became the killer-dilla drug of choice in hoods across America. Fly, funky and fantastic, this Gil Scott-Heron anti-drug song was pure dope.

7. "We Almost Lost Detroit" (1977)

Always on the cutting edge of political commentary, Gil made this track about the dangers of nuclear power after reading the John G. Fuller book about the Fermi power plant that suffered a near meltdown in 1966. Name-dropping murdered activist and whistle-blower Karen Silkwood in the lyrics, the song was remade by indie pop band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. earlier this year.

8. "Angola, Louisiana" (1978)

"It's impossible to visit the place and not feel that a prisoner could disappear off the face of the earth and no one would ever know or care," wrote New York Times journalist Peter Applebome in 1998 about Louisiana's Angola State Prison. Known as one of the most brutal prison complexes in the country, Angola has more inmates on death row than any other facility in the country. Heron and Jackson wrote this track about the unfair imprisonment of black teenager Gary Tyler, who was jailed in 1975 after a 13-year-old white kid was killed during a riot. Although no weapon was found, Tyler was arrested for the crime. Supposedly beaten by police, he confessed and became the youngest person ever sentenced to death. Although no longer on death row, Tyler is still an inmate. While Brit artists UB40 ("Tyler") and Chumbawamba ("Waiting for the Bus") have since made songs about Tyler-but as in so many other cases, Gil Scott-Heron was the first

9. "Me and The Devil" 2010)

Most down-home music fans know the bugged tale about original guitar bluesman Robert Johnson, who supposedly sold his soul to the devil at them there Delta crossroads in exchange for mastering the axe. Like the iconic guitarist, Gil Scott-Heron also walked, talked and played mighty hard on the dark side. With his beautifully stark cover of Johnson's classic "Me and the Devil," he embraced that brooding blues lifestyle with a vengeance.

10. "I'll Take Care of You" (2011)

Even when he was close to death after years of living on the edge, smoking crack and going to jail, Gil Scott-Heron was still capable of great recordings. Billed as his comeback in 2010, the album I'm New Here was hailed as one of the best recordings of his illustrious career. Gil's gravelly version of this song, first made famous by old-school soul man Brook Benton, was remixed by Brit producer Jamie xx, who turned the track into a dance-floor sensation. More recently Drake and Rihanna had a huge hit that interpolated the song's chorus.

Source: complex

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Gil Scott-Heron on You-Tube

 Winter in America  / We Beg Your Pardon  / Message to the Messengers  / Johannesburg  / The Bottle  / Is That Jazz?  / Ain't No Such Thing As A Superman

I'm New Here  / Me and the Devil  /  New York Is Killing Me  /  I'll Take Care of You / The Get Out of the Ghetto Blues  / Show Bizness 

 King Alfred Plan  / The Gun  /  Ain’t No New Thing  /  Whitey on the Moon  /  Billy Green Is Dead  /  Brother  / Peace Go With You, Brother  / Angel Dust.

Gil Scott Heron Godfather of Rap 1 of 6 Gil Scott Heron Godfather of Rap 2 of 6  / Gil Scott Heron Godfather of Rap 3 of 6 

 Gil Scott Heron Godfather of Rap 4 of 6 /  Gil Scott Heron Godfather of Rap 5 of 6  / Gil Scott Heron Godfather of Rap 6 of 6

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.

"Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."Lisa Adkins, University of London

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.WashingtonPost

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered.

Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong. —Jamie Byng, Guardian /

Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)  / Gil Scott-Heron & His Music  Gil Scott Heron Blue Collar  Remember Gil Scott- Heron

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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posted 30 May 2011




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