Poet, musician, activist, and “godfather of rap” Gil Scott-Heron challenged musical and social limits right up until his death in 2011, combining jazz, blues, soul, and spoken word to create evocative new sounds. His influence on contemporary music is enormous – even to just consider the artists who’ve directly sampled his work is overwhelming, much less all the artists who have been inspired by his style and delivery.
TV One decided to delve into this legend’s story in a new episode of their documentary series, Unsung. The directors give an overview of Scott-Heron’s life and musical evolution, including insights from his family, primary musical collaborator Brian Jackson, Talib Kweli and Snoop Dogg.
The documentary also discusses Scott-Heron’s little-known Caribbean roots — his father, Gil Heron, was originally from Kingston. The top scorer in the North American Soccer Football League while playing professional soccer with the Detroit Wolverines in 1946, Heron was scouted by the Glasgow Celtic FC, becoming the Scottish club’s first black player. His professional achievements, however, meant leaving his family behind. As noted in the song “Hello Sunday, Hello Road,” Scott-Heron didn’t meet his father until he was 26.
Watch the documentary below: