[Photo courtesy of:mfeenz.com]
By Rahman J. Dukes
The music industry bid farewell to the one of its most influential stars, poet of all poets and legendary musician, Gil Scott-Heron who was laid to rest yesterday following an emotional, yet celebratory tribute fit for a king. The funeral services held on Thursday at the Harlem Riverside Church for Heron was packed wall to wall consisting mostly of family and friends as well a number of musicians all remembering the man who coined the phrase “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”
Gil Scott-Heron passed away last Friday due to an unknown illness he suffered following a recent trip to Europe. News of his passing shocked the music industry above and beyond. It was Heron’s mix of soul and political anecdotes into his music that would later influence an entire sector of hip-hop highlighted in songs from artists such as Public Enemy, Common, Mos Def, Kanye West and much more. Following Heron’s death rapper Lupe Fiasco penned an open letter to the “godfather of rap” remixing his infamous track to “The Television Will Not Be Revolutionized.”
“So there will be no revolution, or paradoxically ironic televised public execution of the entire worldwide televising institution, there won’t even be a celebritized, televised trial of old baby blue, cuz you see my dear friends the television will not be revolutionized but what about the revolution that should taking place inside………………….of you?,” wrote Fiasco.
Following in her dad’s footsteps, during the services Gil Scott-Heron’s daughter Gia read a poem she wrote, honoring her father.
“He was legendary, a visionary, an illuminating luminary,” wrote Gia. “There will never be another like He. Made of stuff usually only seen in Mythology. And although I’m biased, I still say he’s a genius!”
Rapper Kanye West and singer Stevie Wonder were both on hand to musically acknowledge Heron. West performed his track “Lost in the World” off his recent album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy that samples Heron’s famous poem “Comment #1.”
Often regarded as one of the leaders and chief influences in the precursory stages of hip hop, Gil Scott-Heron helped to define a turbulent time for African-Americans and black militarism in the 1970s via his well-known works such as Pieces of a Man and Winter in America. His politically charged poem and song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” is perhaps Scott-Heron’s most notable work as the 1971 single from Pieces of a Man has been sampled by hip-hop artists and often quoted by many.
Gil Scott-Heron’s 2010 album I’m New Here was released to critical acclaim and signaled a resurgence of art from the poet as his much publicized struggles with drug addiction and legal problems almost overshadowed his legacy. Scott-Heron leaves behind 15 studio albums, 11 compilation albums and nine live recordings.
“Pop, I love you in life and death,” Gia concluded at the end of her poem during the service. “Until the day that I die. But until that time, I’ll just look to the sky ’cuz I know you’ll be shinin’ on me, And be shinin’ on in my memory. For the rest of my life! So it’s see you later, Pop, not goodbye. … Love you Daddy, Gia.”
A public viewing will be held later Friday from 6-9 p.m. at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home at 81st Street and Madison Avenue.