“I consider myself neither poet, composer, nor musician. These are merely tools used by sensitive men to carve out a piece of beauty or truth they hope may lead to peace and salvation.”
He has been opening eyes, minds and souls for over thirty years. A highly influential and widely admired singer, proto-rapper, jazz pianist, poet, novelist and socio- political commentator, Gil Scott-Heron remains a unique figure in global music. With over fifteen albums to his name, his politically charged output has won him an international following. His work illuminates a philosophy of life that holds human affection as well as political and artistic responsibility as the underlying factors that inspire his writing.
Gil Scott-Heron was born in Chicago in 1949. Both parents divorced whilst Gil was still a child and he was dispatched off to his grandmother in Lincoln, Tennessee. His grandmother helped Gil musically, however, early racial tensions at school, led him to relocate again to the Bronx during his adolescent years to live with his mother and he later moved again to the Spanish neighborhood of Chelsea.
As a student, he admired the poetry of Langston Hughes and followed his footsteps by enrolling in Lincoln University. It was at college he met Brian Jackson, who was later to be a long time musical collaborator. By age 20, he completed the novel ‘The Vulture’ and the book of poetry, ‘Small Talk At 125th & Lenox.’ He released his debut album, “New Black Poet: Small Talk at 125th and Lennox,” in 1970, the album contained the powerful “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” a damning attack on the media and the state of the union from how he saw it. This was just the beginning.
The follow up album, 1971's “Pieces of a Man,” showed a growing musical maturity, featuring 'Lady Day and John Coltrane' and the, less political, “I Think I'll Call It Morning,” “Pieces of a Man,” and what would be his nemesis of “Home is where the Hatred Is,” this was released under Bob Thiele's, Flying Dutchman Records. The musicians on this record were Brian Jackson on piano, Ron carter, bass, Bernard Purdie, drums, and Hubert Laws on flute and sax. Gil signed a one album deal for Strata East, in 1974 with Brian Jackson, and released the album “Winter In America,” which contained the original version of “The Bottle.” This was an underground and cult hit then worked its way into the R&B charts.