Gil Scott-Heron and the Vulture

Sean Palmer / May 28, 2011

“If you see the Vulture coming, flying circles in your mind
Remember there is no escaping,
For he will follow close behind.
Only promise me a battle,
Battle for your soul and mine.”

Gil Scott-Heron, “Your Soul and Mine“, I’m New Here

Fourty-one years ago, on the heels of his first novel, a 21-year-old author, poet, musician, and African-American rights activist took the stage at 125th & Lenox in Harlem, New York. With a deep voice seemingly destined for spoken word, he began with a poem entitled “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. His words vividly illustrated themes and views which continue to resonate deeply with communities throughout the United States

The recording of this session became the debut album which set into motion a boundlessly influential career. From Kanye West to Jamie xx, Scott-Heron’s cultural relevance has proven timeless. Last year, his Bill Callahan-inspired final album, I’m New Here, allowed us to share in his introspective reflections. He demonstrated that we must sometimes look backward in order to move forward.

Yesterday, the Vulture finished spiraling above its narrator. But Gil Scott-Heron’s legacy will continue to thrive through his catalog and the innumerable artists who have benefited from it. Keep an ear out; you might be surprised by the breadth of his lasting presence.

Peace Go With You, Gil.

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