Socialist Party
| Print

1 June 2011

Gil Scott-Heron

Musician, poet and writer Gil Scott-Heron died on 27 May. He was well respected for his contribution to the arts and his influential role in radical politics in America in the 1970s. He recently returned from a tour of Europe to promote his new album, I'm New Here.

But it is his early work which is most celebrated. At his height he was prolific, releasing nine albums in the 1970s, all with unique sounds, topics and takes on areas such as social inequality, family life, racism and poverty.

He was no lightweight liberal, the vociferous yet poetic statements in his albums brought comparisons with the rising Black Panther movement of the time.

He dedicated an album to the fight against apartheid when, in America, it was an under-reported event.

When any musician dies, interest in their work is rekindled and their masterpieces re-discovered by a new generation. If you are unfamiliar with his music, or haven't re-connected with it in a while, take the opportunity to listen to a unique figure.

Ian Slattery