“Politics is a small part of my life and just a small part of my music if people take it from a song-to song-basis,” declared poet/author/musician/composer Gil Scott-Heron to Tasty Clips in one of the last interviews he gave before his untimely death in 2011.
“On the album ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,’ that was the only political song on there. It was one out of 11, so it was a small part. Since it was everybody’s favorite, it became everybody’s label for what I was doing.”
The conscious wordsmith who was this writer’s first interview some 35 years prior, was just as provocative but the session never saw print … until now.
His powerful songs such as “Johannesburg,” “Angel Dust,” and “The Bottle” reflected his world view and bouts with addiction and incarceration set to inviting grooves.
These times call for the words of a sage griot and educator. Here are some of Scott-Heron’s:
BV: What is the issue we most need to be concerned about right now?
GSH: “Each other and how we treat each other. We’ve become just like white people. We’re so busy running we run right past people we should be looking at.”
BV: Who would you like to see do the Gil Scott-Heron movie?
GSH: “Why would anyone want to make a movie out of something they could read and listen to? That’s another way white folk have tricked us. It used to be a capital crime to teach black folks to read because the secrets of what’s been going on and still is going on is in the books. The more they can distract us with videos, video games, movies and different things to look at instead of reading about what’s necessary for us to know, the better they feel about the whole thing. That means they’re winning.”
BV: What books are essential for us to read?
GSH: “Down South, white folks needed to read ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’ Once they did, they understood how ugly some of things were that they did. Then it changed their lives. I think that was an earth-changing book.
“I would suggest Lorraine Hansberry. Read Gwendolyn Brooks. Hell, read Langston Hughes. Read Paul Lawrence Dunbar. Read Jean Toomes. Start there. Those people will give you other ideas about things to read. I think that we’ve overlooked a lot of beautiful people and they are there in those books. They’re in those libraries right down the street from you and you can get them for free.”
BV: If it’s not too ghoulish to ask, what would be on your epitaph?
“I don’t care. Why should I care what’s on my epitaph? If you tell me what’s going to be on yours, I’ll tell you what’s I think is going to be on mine. Like that song, I’ll think about it. I think about the fact I did the best that I could. If everybody could say that we’d all be a lot better.”
PAN AFRICAN FILM & ARTS FESTIVAL: The 28th edition of the largest black film festival in America continues with a robust schedule through Feb. 23 at Cinemark 15. Some selections of note remaining include the U.S. premieres of “The Cuban” (Feb. 14, 16, 20) starring Oscar winner Lou Gossett Jr. as an elderly musician; the documentary “Devil’s Pie – D’Angelo” (Feb. 16); and Nick Cannon’s “She Ball” (Feb. 21) with Cedric The Entertainer, Faison Love, Marla Gibbs, Evan Ross, Luenell, DC Young Fly, Birdman and Big Boy.
TICKET WATCH: Janet Jackson announced that she is hitting the road again with the 2020 Black Diamond World Tour 2020 launching June 24 in Miami; with nationwide stops to include the Essence Music Festival (July 3-5 in New Orleans with Bruno Mars), Staples Center (Aug. 12) and Honda Center (Aug. 15).
For tickets for the show, featuring new songs from an upcoming album and a special 30th anniversary performance commemorating “Rhythm Nation 1814,” visit LiveNation.com.
CLIPPETTES: Nelly celebrates the 20th anniversary of “Country Grammar” by performing it in its entirety at The Novo on Feb. 14; as Morris Day & The Time with opener Vicki Sue Robinson fill the stage of The Saban …
The music continues with Michael Henderson’s Celebration Of Love at The Miracle Theater; The Mint hosting Elle Varner; Charlie Wilson, Stephanie Mills and Con Funk Shun at the Microsoft; and Will Downing and Boney James gifting A Smooth Jazz Valentines Concert at Long Beach’s Terrace Theater …
After the “Power” series finale, it was announced that Naturi Naughton, Michael Rainey Jr. and Shane Johnson will continue their roles in a new Starz spinoff to star Mary J. Blige and Cliff “Method Man” Smith called “Power Book II: Ghost” …
Ashanti, Ja Rule, DMX, Xzibit and more represent The Heart of Hip Hop at the Honda Center Feb. 15. Meanwhile, Decades Collide with Big Daddy Kane and The Beat Junkies will be held at The Belasco; as Gallant with VanJess begin a two-night stand at The Roxy …
Valentine Love Jam with Tyrese, Ginuwine, Joe, Avant, Dru Hill and Brownstone ends the weekend on Feb. 16 at The Forum. Luke James is also in concert that evening at The Troubadour …
After a quick sell out, The Regent Theater has added an extra night Feb. 17 for Digable Planets with a live band …
“Dark Girls 2: Deep, Dark and Perfect,” a sequel to the hit OWN documentary developed by D. Channsin Berry and Bill Duke, will screen Feb. 19 at the Ray Stark Family Theatre followed by a Q&A with Berry …
Marcus Miller begins four nights at Catalina Bar and Grill Feb. 20. Ladysmith Black Mambazo are scheduled for the UCLA Performing Arts Center but the passing of 78-year-old group founder Joseph Shabalala may alter the Grammy Award-winning South African vocal group’s schedule. Check with the venue for updates.
AMAZING GRACE: Emmy-nominated actress, dancer, choreographer and singer Paula Kelly died on Feb. 8 in Whittier from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at 77. Her many credits include stints as a dance soloist for Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey; the films “Sweet Charity,” “Uptown Saturday Night,” and Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored;” and Emmy-nominated TV work on “The Richard Pryor Show,” “Night Court,” and “The Women of Brewster Place.”
She graced the stage in countless theatre productions including a L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award-winning performance in “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope;” the West Coast premiere of “Sophisticated Ladies” opposite Gregory Hines; and a return from retirement to join the cast of the Ebony Repertory Theatre’s production of “Crowns” by Regina Taylor.
A celebration of her life will be held in L.A. at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center with details to be announced at a later date.
TC ON TV: Feb. 14 – “High Fidelity” (Hulu): Zoë Kravitz is a star of this series take on Nick Hornby‘s 1995 novel and beloved 2000 film centering on the world of a devoted neighborhood record store owner. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who broke out in “My Name is Dolemite,” is a regular. “The Real” (Syn): Lakeith Stanfield and Lil Rel Howery, from “Get Out” and “The Photograph” opening this day, join the panel. “Graham Norton” (BBCA): Alicia Keys, Mark Ruffalo
Feb. 16 – “American Idol” (ABC): The auditions begin for the 18th season. “The Simpsons” (Fox): John Legend and Chrissy Teigen are guest voices. “The Race For The White House” (CNN): “Obama v. McCain”
Feb. 17 – “AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange” (World): Thomas Allen Harris‘ “Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela” and Madeleine Hunt-Ehrlich‘s “Spit on the Broom,“ a surrealist short doc exploring a secret organization of Black women formed during the days of the Underground Railroad. “No Passport Required” (PBS): The season concludes exploring Boston’s Portuguese food traditions.
Feb. 18 – “We Are The Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest” (HBO): Academy Award-winner Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”) is the executive producer of this uplifting documentary about young people finding their voices and the community that celebrates and supports their passion. “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours To Hell And Back” (Fox): An Oak Park, California, gastropub gets a visit from chef and Rob Gronkowski. “Hot Ones: The Game Show” (Tru): Host Sean Evans welcomes fans into the “Pepperdome” to compete against one another by answering trivia questions and eating increasing mouth-scorching hot wings for $25,000.
Feb. 19 – “The Chef Show” (Netflix): Writer, director and food enthusiast Jon Favreau and chef Roy Choi return for a third season of exploring food with accomplished chefs and their celebrity friends. “Black Patriots” (History): From executive producer and NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar comes this one-hour special detailing the African-American experience during the Revolutionary War through stories of some of the most crucial and significant black figures of our country’s foundation including Crispus Attucks, Peter Salem, Phillis Wheatley and James Armistead Lafayette.
TASTY QUIP: “Bill Cosby is in prison tweeting Snoop. You can’t make this s**t up. Black History month sponsored by Hennessy.” – Comic/Actor KARLOUS MILLER (“Wild ‘N Out”) on Instagram
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. Bill Vaughan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, via Twitter @tastyclips, or Instagram @tasty_clips.