This month one of my favorite artists, Gil Scott-Heron, would have turned 65 had he not tragically passed away much too soon in 2011. Though he remains somewhat overlooked, in my opinion this singer, musician, poet and activist is easily one of the most important figures in African American music since the early 1970s.
He was an artist whose music incisively and often humorously spoke truth to power and chronicled the plight of his people. But he was also capable of writing moving personal songs about his life as an artist, family man and black man in America. The wide range of themes he explored gave his songs a rare substance. The soulful, jazz-influenced productions that were often made with his frequent collaborator, Brian Jackson, provided the perfect accompaniment. His most famous song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised“, has rightfully become a classic but there was a lot more to him than that.
I’ve put together a short mix of some of my favorite Gil Scott-Heron tunes. Considering the amount of quality music he put out in his lifetime the length of the mix doesn’t do him justice. So for anyone who hasn’t already checked out his amazing body of work I suggest you do so.