kYmberly Keeton; Message to the Revolution: Gil Scott-Heron, The Poet…
(ThyBlackMan.com) I will never forget when I heard the political poem, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, performed at The Arlington Museum of Art, in Arlington, Texas. I was so enamored, attentive, and wanted to know if the poet on the stage was the author of the powerful words. I later found out who wrote the famous lyrics. The originator of the poem, Gil Scott-Heron, whom I became familiar with in the early part of 21st Century, died on Friday night. I researched and downloaded music to my Youtube.com profile soflynmythirties throughout this weekend. I was speechless, while listening to his baritone voice that echoed love, hurt, freedom, power, and pain.
Gil Scott-Heron was a writer, an author, poet, musician and political storyteller. Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1949, at a young age, he was sent to live with his grandmother in Jackson, Tennessee. After she died, Scott-Herron moved to the Bronx, New York, with his mother. His life changed forever after that move; the young writer was offered a full-scholarship to the prestigious Fieldston School. Thereafter, he began to write prolifically; the talented wordsmith graduated from high school and enrolled into his mentor’s [Langston Hughes] Alma mater, Lincoln University.
The young poet grew up during a time when African-Americans were still [and still are] fighting for continued equal rights, education, and political office. While in college, Scott-Heron met Brian Jackson, and formed the group, Black & Blues. Their music platform became the sounding board for the young poet to use soul, blues, rhythm, and jazz as a tool for African-American social/political awareness. In 1970, the creative genius began his artistic portfolio with “Small Talk at 125th and Lenox,” produced by Bob Thiele of Flying Dutchman Records. Gil Scott-Heron went on to record/write (15) studio albums, (9) live albums, (11) compilations, (4) books of poetry and (2) novels—a legacy with issues.
Social causes, politics, and drugs were the focal points in Scott-Heron’s body of work. Fighting the powers that be, he became entrapped in the essence. His cocaine habit turned into a full-fledged crack addiction, and he was diagnosed with HIV some time ago. Many of Scott-Heron’s songs reference his obsession with drugs. Though addicted to the lifestyle, the artist continued to work at his craft. He subliminally talks about his life choices and their infinite consequences on his last album, “I’m New Here,” produced in 2010. The message from the messenger has been televised.
Gil Scott-Heron was the first poet that I ever heard speak as if no one was in the room, but God. He commanded the stage with patience and grace. The deepness and mystery in his vocal chords never wavered; they stayed in tact—despite the abuse. Scott-Heron stayed in touch with pop-culture, and always left a message for the generation in line for the torch. One of my favorite poems by the poet is Message to the Messengers.
We got respect for you rappers and the way they be free-weighin’
But if you’re gon’ be teachin’ folks things, make sure you know what you’re sayin’
Older folks in our neighborhood got plenty of know-how
Remember if it wasn’t for them, you wouldn’t be out here now
And I ain’t comin’ at you with no disrespect
All I’m sayin’ is that you damn well got to be correct
Because if you’re gonna be speakin’ for a whole generation
And you know enough to try and handle their education
Be sure you know the real deal about past situations…
Reaching the masses with his Voice of Reality, and the initiative to speak the truth, Gil Scott-Heron’s purpose on this earth is complete. Listen to Gil Scott-Heron’s Message to the Messengers in its entirety. ~ RIP 1949-2011
Staff Writer; kYmberly Keeton
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