Monday, 22 October 2012

Looking for a brighter day

Radio 1 Xtra had a programme last night about the musician, poet and activist Gil Scott-Heron who died last year at the age of sixty-two.

Scott-Heron's music spans blues, jazz, soul and funk. His spoken word poetry over a drum beat can also be seen as a precursor of hip-hop. He is probably best known for The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

One of the most interesting bits in the programme was an interview where Scott-Heron talked about his childhood in Tennessee. He was brought up by his maternal grandmother, a religious woman who took him to church where he heard gospel music. He also listened to blues records by Robert Johnson, later describing himself as a "bluesologist" exploring the African roots of the music. I was struck by the similarities between his childhood influences and that of another African-American musician, Muddy Waters.

The programme was called Gone Too Soon but Gil hasn't gone: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised was played in Tahrir Square by the revolutionaries who toppled the Mubarak regime in Egypt last year.

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