Listen now 30 mins
Poet Lemn Sissay explores the life of the influential activist, musician, writer and 'godfather of rap' Gil Scott-Heron, who died in May 2011.
Following in the footsteps of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes, The Black Arts movement and jazz and blues musicians such as John Coltrane and Billie Holiday, Gil Scott-Heron helped pioneer the fight for racial equality and developed a new way of fusing music with hard-hitting political poetry. His story reflects the modern African-American struggle, from segregation in the South to triumph in the White House.
Lemn will speak to Gil about his childhood, spent with his feisty grandmother in Tennessee, and his teenage years in New York at the height of the Civil Rights movement, punctuated by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and when black artists, musicians and writers were beginning to find a voice in modern American society.
Gil spent four decades in the music business during which time he joined forces with Stevie Wonder to campaign for a Martin Luther King national holiday, paved the way for the birth of hip hop, influenced some of the biggest names in popular culture and wrestled with a long term addiction to drugs.
Featuring interviews with Chuck D, Greg Tate and Benjamin Zephaniah.
Gil Scott Heron died on May 27th 2011.
This programme was first broadcast in 2009.
Producer: Elizabeth Alker
An All Out production for BBC Radio 4.
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