Monday, February 01, 2016

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GIL SCOTT HERON, “THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED” POET ON THE WOMEN WHO MADE HIM, THE DUTY OF ARTISTS, AND THE TRUTH ABOUT GANGSTA RAP (MF GALAXY 063)


ART AND EDUCATION VS. THE US PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, POPULAR SELECTIVE MEMORY ABOUT MALCOLM X, HIS FINAL BOOK, AND HOW CORPORATE MEDIA DISTORTS ENTERTAINERS AND CRUSADERS

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“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is perhaps the best-known line of poetry of any post-war American poet. Gil Scott-Heron’s accomplishments and views allow for many labels, none of which encompass the man: jazz musician, singer-songwriter, poet, novelist, and historian. Born in 1949, Scott-Heron released more than twenty albums, two novels (the first published when he was 19), and the 2012 memoir The Last Holiday about Stevie Wonder’s campaign to enshrine Martin Luther King’s birthday as a US national holiday.) His work is political, personal, and always richly poetical.

In July, 1999, Wayne Malcolm of CJSW Community Radio Calgary and I met with Gil Scott-Heron at the Calgary Folk Festival. He discussed:

  • The importance of his mother and his grandmother in his early life
  • How he got pigeonholed as a political artist despite the broad range of his art and life
  • The significance and illusions of gangster rap
  • Art and education vs. the US prison-industrial complex
  • Scott Heron’s thoughts on popular selective memory about Malcolm X
  • His first novel, written when Scott-Heron when he was only 19, and the subject of his final novel
  • How his lyrics address manhood and his own personal experience of being a husband and a father
  • His collaboration with Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest, and
  • How corporate media distort our perceptions of famous entertainers or famous crusaders


He began by talking about his famous father who was known as the Black Arrow—and no, he wasn’t a superhero.

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