I met Gil Scott-Heron relatively late in his career whilst he was recording “I’m New Here” with Richard Russell. We had been commissioned by directors Iain and Jane to capture various film elements that would be used to promote the record. I had no idea what to expect when I first knocked on his door, but an afternoon of banking, frozen ice and red roses certainly trumped anything I could have imagined. Over the course of the project and long after we’d finished, Gil and I had many unforgettable conversations. He was writing his memoirs, and each time I visited, he would hand me a pile of dog-eared pages to read. I was fascinated by his story, and my questioning lead to great discussions about the role of women in shaping his identity and life as African Spirit, amongst other things. The beauty of Gil was that he was not afraid to act on his beliefs. He lived an honest life, true to his values regardless of the opinions of others.
I’ve found that a good friend’s voice continues to echo loudly in your ears long after they have departed. Gil, your voice is all around, in text, in song, in the hearts of those you cared for, those you played music with, and those you shared your life with.
-natalie johns, Dig For Fire
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