About Gilbert Scott-Heron
http://blahist1.blogspot.com/ via The DISH online at www.thedish.org Vol. 12 No 13...Dedicated to the Dialogue on Race... 03-29-09
Born April 1, 1949 in Chicago, Illinois, Gil Scott-Heron spent his early childhood in Jackson, Tennessee in the home of his maternal grandmother Lillie Scott after his parents' divorce. His mother, a college graduate and librarian, Bobbie Scott-Heron, sang with the New York Oratorial Society. His father, Giles "Gil" Heron of Jamaican descent, nicknamed "The Black Arrow," was a soccer player who, in the 1950s, became the first black athlete to play for Glasgow's Celtic Football Club.
By age 13, Scott-Heron had written his first book of poetry. Unfortunately, about the same time his grandmother died and he moved to the Bronx in New York City to live with his mother. Scott-Heron enrolled in DeWitt Clinton High School. However, after one of his teachers, a Fieldston School graduate, showed one of his writings to the head of the school's English department, Scott-Heron transferred to Fieldston under a full scholarship.
Following high school, Scott-Heron attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he met Brian Jackson with whom he formed the band Black & Blues and later collaborated extensively. Scott-Heron spent two years at Lincoln before taking a year off to complete his novels, The Vulture and The Nigger Factory. Published in 1970, The Vulture was well received.
Instead of returning to complete his degree at Lincoln University, Scott-Heron returned to New York City, settling in Chelsea, Manhattan, a multi-racial and multi-cultural community. While he never received his undergraduate degree, Scott-Heron has a Masters in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University.
Influenced by a poem written by his mentor Bob Thiele and produced under the Flying Dutchman Records label, "Small Talk at 125th and Lennox" was released in 1970. The fifteen (15) tracks of his debut album feature poetic, spoken word and addresses a variety of socioeconomic and political issues, including 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 homophobia. It contains "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," a black American cult favorite.
Scott-Heron's second LP, 1971's Pieces of a Man, expanded his range, featuring songs such as the title track and "Lady Day and John Coltrane." The following year he released Free Will, the last album he produced under the Flying Dutchman label.
In 1975, Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson recorded Winter in America for Strata East, then moved to Arista Records in 1975. His work under Clive Davis' new label included "Johannesburg," which reached number 29 on the R&B charts (1975), Midnight Band: The First Minute of a New Day, It's Your World (1976) and The Mind of Gil Scott-Heron (1979). He also had a hit single with "Angel Dust", which peaked at #15 on the R&B charts (1978). During the 1980's, Scott-Heron produced Reflections (1981) and Moving Target (1982)
Dropped by Arista in 1985, Scott-Heron quit recording. In 1993, he released "Spirits," an album with "Message to the Messengers," 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. Known in many circles as "the Godfather of rap," Scott-Heron is widely considered one of the genre's founding fathers. Given the political consciousness that lies at the heart of his work, Scott-Heron can also be called a founder of political rap.
Since 2001, Scott-Heron has been sentenced twice to prison for drug possession and parole violation. He also appeared on the Blazing Arrow album by Blackalicious, made a number of live appearances and continues to work on a new album. Canongate Books are planning to publish an autobiography by Scott-Heron in January, 2011. This is to be previewed via a website due to be launched on April 1, 2009. Mark T. Watson, a student of Scott-Heron's work, dedicated a collection of poetry to him 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 released in 2008 as part of the album Rhythms of the Diaspora by Malik & the OG's on the record label CPR Recordings. (Sources: www.aaregistry.com and http://en.wikipedia.org).