Scott-Heron, Gil

Scott-Heron, Gil, 1949–2011, American poet, musician, and songwriter, b. Chicago. Often considered “the godfather of rap music,” he rejected that title, preferring to call his work “bluesology” of simply “black American music.” He wrote poetry with a strong social, political, and racial content, which he spoke or sang to a strong percussive beat or other jazz or soul accompaniment. Scott-Heron became famous for his satiric spoken anthem “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (1970), which made him a spokesman for African-American protest. He recorded more than a dozen albums, from Small Talk at 125th and Lenox (1970) to I'm New Here (2010); his clear, youthful voice roughened in later recordings due to alcoholism and drug addiction. In 2007, he announced he was suffering from AIDS and his health began to decline. Among his other well-known pieces are “Lady Day and John Coltrane,” “The Bottle,” “Home Is Where the Hatred Is,” and “Johannesburg.”In 2012 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award Grammy, and in 2021 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

See his memoir (2017); poetry collections, The Vulture (1970), Now and Then: The Poems of Gil Scott-Heron (2001); biography by M. Baram (2014)

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