Gil Scott-Heron memoir to publish on Martin Luther King Day

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A posthumous memoir by Gil Scott-Heron, the late street poet and godfather of hip hop, will be published on Jan. 16, 2012, by Canongate.

The Last Holiday traces Scott-Heron’s reactions to key historical moments throughout his life, focusing on the turbulent period surrounding the Civil Rights movement in America during the 1960s. Later, Scott-Heron toured with Stevie Wonder in the early 1980s, campaigning for a holiday designation in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Fittingly, Jan. 16 marks MLK Day in 2012. Canongate has already published an audiosteam on its Web site with Scott-Heron reading an excerpt from the book, discussing the news that John Lennon had been murdered in 1980.

Scott-Heron will be given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Grammy awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Feb. 12, 2012.

Here’s a look back previous items from Something Else! Reviews on Gil Scott-Heron. Click through the titles for expanded coverage …

GIL SCOTT-HERON: AN APPRECIATION: He put forth a telling lyric: “Met a woman in a bar, told her I was hard to get to know and near impossible to forget.” It was an apt description for a stop-start career that saw Scott-Heron occasionally disappear for lengthy stretches of time. (He recorded extensively into the 1980s but then didn’t release another album until Spirits in 1994.) But when he appeared, it was often with something profound to share. Scott-Heron started out at the dawn of the 1970s as a jazz-inclined R&B singer and spoken-word performer, a rapper years before the genre was formally invented. “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” — which appeared on Scott-Heron’s conversational debut recording, 1970’s Small Talk at 125th and Lenox — was so influential that the saying ultimately moved into the language. Fast forward to 2010, and Scott-Heron’s take on Robert Johnson’s “The Devil And Me” would be named Something Else! Reviews’ mainstream song of year, recognition for the way his hip-hop version further embellished on Johnson’s mystique.

GIL SCOTT-HERON – I’M NEW HERE: He takes Robert Johnson’s “Me And The Devil” into modern times, stripping the blues completely off and delivering its harrowing power using his still emotionally affecting voice, even edgier now with a deepened rasp. Right after that he does a one-eighty with the folky title song, delivered with just his voice, now softer, and an acoustic guitar. Everywhere is a clash of the old and the new in both topics and music/recitations, and the production balances the two damned effectively, keeping Scott-Heron’s singular talents at the forefront. At a time when most popular R&B and rap had devolved into dance music — all shake, no sizzle — Scott-Heron, a ground-floor griot, continued to speak truth to power.

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