T

he music of the late and legendary poet Gil Scott-Heron, was an inspiration to multitudes of people, the world over. His inspiring, uplifting, insightful and real ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ observational lyrics, struck a chord in many people’s hearts and minds. None more so than Malik Al Nasir who was taken under Gil’s guidance from an early age. Malik cited the wordsmith as being responsible for putting him on a positive career path and overseeing his transition from boyhood to manhood. Today Malik himself is a successful poet and wordsmith, fronting his own band Malik & The O.G’s, as well as being a high-profile activist, promoting civil rights within his hometown of Liverpool and beyond.

As a mark of respect and a big thank you for all Gil had done for him, Malik felt it fitting to put together the ‘tribute of all tributes’ to his teacher, mentor, confidant and surrogate father figure. ‘The Revolution Will Be Live!’ took place on Thursday 27th August 2015, preceded by a Civic Reception, presentation and dinner at Liverpool Town Hall, in honour of the great man on Wednesday 26th August, hosted by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool alongside invited dignitaries including Gil Scott-Heron’s son Rumal Rackley and Gil’s daughter Che’ Scott-Heron Newton. UK Vibe was privileged to be invited to cover both events and interview the main protagonists and key performers.

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool

02-councillor-tony-concepcion_by_carl-hyde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool
Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

The Lord Mayor of Liverpool paid his own tribute to Gil Scott-Heron during his speech at the Civic reception, whilst also recognising the attendance of Gil’s son and daughter.

Lord Mayor: It is an honour that we’re joined here today by members of Gil’s family, his son and administrator of his father’s estate Rumal Rackley and also here his youngest daughter Che’ Scott-Heron Newton. May I say on behalf of the City of Liverpool, that we appreciate the impact of your father’s legacy upon the people of this city. We welcome you to Liverpool and look forward to your finale event at the prestigious St Georges Hall tomorrow evening when Liverpool’s International Music Festival (LIMF) opens with the declaration: “The Revolution Will Be Live!” May I thank all those involved… Including Yesternight Productions, Fore-Word Press and the Mandela Memorial Campaign Group. For the City of Liverpool, it is very important that we further the legacy’s of Gil Scott-Heron and Nelson Mandela. Thank you very much.

Rumal Rackley – Gil Scott-Heron’s son and Administrator of his Estate

03-ramul-rackley_by_carl-hyde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rumal Rackley – Gil Scott-Heron’s son
Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

Gil Scott-Heron’s son took the podium to give his own measured and heartfelt response: “Lord Mayor, Deputy Mayor, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. I’d just like to thank you all for coming out today in support of our family. Che’, myself and the rest of our family are deeply moved by the fact that we were able to attend a tribute to Gil; his works, musical work, poetry works, literary works and civil duties. We were here in Liverpool earlier this week and I was speaking to someone who is actually here, a very beautiful lady who was telling me that she was speaking to Gil in 1982, right after the (Toxteth) riots, he was speaking to the community and encouraging them. So Gil has deep roots here in Liverpool and a long history of action in the community, as well as using his music to entertain but also with his messages. We would like to continue to give those messages to a new generation… I would really want to thank everybody for this honour and for appreciating Gil from the bottom of my heart. Thank you.

04-che-scott-heron-newton_ramul-rackley_by_carl-hyde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Che’ Scott Heron-Newton and Rumal Rackley – Gil Scott-Heron’s daughter and son
Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

05-sonia-bassy_simon-glinn_iIbrahim-brian-thompson_che-scott-heron-newton_rumal-rackley_councillor-tony-concepcion_stephen-nze_malik-al-nasir_by_carl-hyde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonia Bassy, Simon Glinn, Ibrahim Brian Thompson, Che’ Scott-Heron Newton, Rumal Rackley, Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Stephen Nze and Malik Al Nasir
Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

Rumal Rackley

Following his thank you speech, Rumal Rackley, along with a few other key protagonists responsible for bringing Gil’s tribute events to fruition, took a few minutes out to speak with UK Vibe’s Michael J. Edwards, on what the man – Gil Scott-Heron – meant to them and how proud they were that Liverpool was hosting such a prestigious tribute in his honour.

06-ramuk-rackley_by_carl-hyde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rumal Rackley – Gil Scott-Heron’s son
Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

Rumal Rackley: I support Malik and his love of Gil and it’s necessary to have tributes to help support Gil’s work and to honour him as an artist. So I was glad that Malik felt the need to try to organise events in tribute to Gil and I wanted to show my support. I knew Malik was trying to pull together some sort of tribute event for some years, so a few years ago he was talking about it and I told him I would give him my support and that’s what I’ve done – and now that it’s here – I’m here also!” (Laughs).

Michael J Edwards: What are your thoughts on the reception that Liverpool has given this event, with the Liverpool International Music Festival and the Lord Mayor of the City of Liverpool getting fully involved and embracing it?

Rumal Rackley: “That’s the part that’s amazing because it’s been on every level, from the Lord Mayor, to the Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF), to the people of Liverpool that I’ve met; everyone has been onboard and everyone has been showing their support for Gil. I’m very impressed by that and I’d like to thank the city for welcoming us.

07-rumal-rackley_councillor-tony-concepcion_by_carl-hyde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rumal Rackley and The Lord Mayor of Liverpool
Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

As a child and young man growing up, I viewed him just as you view your father, not as a superstar but as a man. I viewed him as someone who was strong and who was funny and who was generous and tall. (Laughs) I learned life lessons but they were never forced, it was more him leading by example. He was just a great guy to be around, he was very funny and so I enjoyed just having someone I could talk to, who was just a regular guy.

He used to always go on European tours and I went on a few of those when I was in college. I would join Gil and the band, when they would do the European circuit. That was good in terms of expanding where you are i.e. not just staying in the USA. I was fortunate enough to see the world when they would go on tour. One of the first things I took away from that, was that we would be in countries that didn’t speak English but they knew every word to his songs. We’d be in a full concert, with thousands of people and they would be chanting his songs along with him but they didn’t speak English! That’s when I really felt the magnitude of it like – “Okay, this is something really special that’s happening!”

Michael J Edwards: There is an impressive roster of artists taking part in ‘The Revolution Will Be Live’, with Talib Kweli, The Christians, Aswad, Malik & The O.Gs, plus rising talent Sophia Ben-Yousef – all representing. It should be something special?

Rumal Rackley: I think it should be; I think everybody has a vested interest in continuing to promote and to honour Gil and I think each one of those artists can add a special bit of creativity to make it all come together as well.

Simon Glinn – Former Director of the Liverpool Philharmonic

08-simon-glinn_by_carl-hyde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Glinn – Former Director of the Liverpool Philharmonic
Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

Simon Glinn: I got involved through Gil Scott-Heron really. I first came across Gil’s music in the eighties and loved it. I loved the revolutionary dance music, at a time when angry music in this country was a little more about Punk music; but that was my age and my time during the ‘Rock Against Racism’ movement, alongside a lot of ‘Ban the Bomb’ marches etc. back in the early eighties. By the nineties, I found myself working for Glastonbury Festival running the jazz stage. Gil was supposed to play our stage in (I think) 1994 and I remember taking a phone call from his then agent, saying that ‘he wasn’t going to get to the country.’ I had to go out and staged and tell 30,000 people that Gil Scott-Heron was not going to make it! I remember that it then became a mission for me, to get Gil back to Glastonbury as I programmed that stage for the next few years.

09-simon-glinn_by_carl-hyde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Glinn
Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

The next time he did come back to Britain, was to play some gigs at The Jazz Café in London. The then ‘Head of the Mean Fiddler Group’ arranged for me to meet with Gil, which was very helpful of him and we got on famously. We then cooked up a plan to bring Gil back to Glastonbury, which we did and his last Glastonbury performance was in 2000.

Fast forward ten years and I found myself doing something quite different in the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. I was also part of an organisation called ‘Music Beyond Mainstream’ (MBM) which is a network of major concert halls – very similar Liverpool Philharmonic – around the country. Being very interested in Gil and also aware of the imminent release of the new album on XL Recordings after several years out of the limelight; we were interested in him doing a show and possibly even doing a tour. To my surprise, the rest of that network weren’t interested. So we did a show here in Liverpool and Gil was taking part in something at the Southbank Centre as well… The show in Liverpool was brilliant, there was a big festival in town called Liverpool Sound City and we suggested to them that they could treat it as their launch event, which they did. The venue was sold-out, it was a fantastic show and afterwards, I very briefly met Malik in the green room.

Just a few months later Gil died, Malik went to the funeral and the story was in The Guardian and Rolling Stone magazine and it went around the world. Then Malik rang me one day and said, “Hi, my name is Malik Al Nasir” and I said, “I know exactly who you are, the answer is yes. Now why don’t you come and find me in the pub I’m in and tell me what the question is.” I was actually sat in the pub with Cllr Steve Munby, who joins us here today, having a pint. It was Ramadan, so Malik wouldn’t even have a glass of water with us but he told us his story and we said, “Let’s see what we can do?”

So it began! A sort of saga, in trying to find a way to bring this project to fruition. Initially, I had hoped that through Music Beyond Mainstream (MBM) that it would happen. It did get some research and development funding and a very good friend of mine called Guy Morley suggested that we get Orphy Robinson involved as the Musical Director. So Orphy become involved and latterly Cleveland Watkiss as well and I think that link with Jazz Warriors International was a stroke of genius from Guy, which was so relevant. That’s what I like about Malik’s band – Malik & The O.G’s’ – incorporating members of Gil’s band ‘The Amnesia Express’ and ‘The Jazz Warriors’ I think that’s a great thing! I was pleased that happened and its Guy Morley that deserves all the credit for that suggestion – making that happen.

10-malik-al-nasir_simon-glinn_mayor_mayoress_rumal-rackley_by_carl-hyde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Malik Al Nasir, Simon Glinn, Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Lady Mayoress, and Rumal Rackley
Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

My colleague Richard Haswell at Liverpool Philharmonic suggested working through an organisation called Phrased and Confused who do some very interesting stuff around poetry. That hasn’t ended up in the mix but I think it’s been very helpful for Malik, in looking at the spoken word element and the presentation of all of that and sort of validating the spoken aspect (as much as the music).

Then there was a chance conversation I’d had with Richard McGinnis of Mama Group – who’s also very well known as a promoter of various club nights in town – We were discussing something entirely different and I mentioned something about Gil Scott-Heron and he said, “I love Gil Scott-Heron!” So I told him the story and really Richard picked up the baton from there and is actually producing and promoting the event in partnership with Malik through their company ‘Yesternight Productions’.

Richard, along with Malik, were commissioned by Yaw Owusu music curator of Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF). I had first met with Yaw in Liverpool Philharmonic and shared this idea and he was into it immediately as well. So the festival has nurtured Malik’s band with performances in 2013 the launching of the festival and then this year they commissioned this whole project; they really got behind it.

I haven’t done very much really, apart from introduce one or two people and fair play to Malik, he gives me a lot of credit for that and has invited me here today. It’s lovely to see it come to fruition. I was just reminiscing with Cllr. Munby just now; that conversation in the pub was four years ago and Malik’s persistence has been fantastic because not everything has been plain sailing. Also, my having worked so long in Liverpool but then having left to go and work elsewhere, I can’t say strongly enough how impressed I am with the city for this wrap-around as well… Not many cities will provide this level of civic response and respect for an artistic tribute. Fair play to Liverpool on that; it’s a very special place.

11-simon-glinn_michael-j-edwards_by_carl-hyde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Glinn and Michael J Edwards
Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

Michael J Edwards: Your views on the presence of Gil’s son Rumal and his daughter Che’ here to support the event?

Simon Glinn: It’s brilliant! That’s what it needs, for it to be that significant. This will not be the only tribute to Gil Scott-Heron that’s ever happened in the world; people have recorded albums of the songs and there have been other events but this has been done on such a scale, with such ambition and it’s been embedded so well throughout the local community. Also, as the opening event of the city’s key music festival, I believe that gives the level of respect that Gil – whom I love very much – merits and deserves. So I’m proud of the fact that Liverpool has been the city to make that response in this country. When I worked here, I used to promote a lot of concerts in a specific concert room at St Georges Hall and to see this concert there, in such a spectacular building and with so much good spoken word on the bill, I’m really looking forward to it.

Councillor Steve Munby – Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods

12-councillor-steve-munby_by_carl-hyde

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Councillor Steve Munby – Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods
Photo: Courtesy of Carl Hyde

Steve Munby: My name is Steve Munby, I’m a councillor in Liverpool 8 and also a Member of the Council Cabinet. I suppose where I came in was about four years ago, just after Gil had died. I was having a pint with a mate of mine, Simon Glinn…Then Malik Al Nasir came in and he was pretty manic; it was Ramadan, so he was fasting! He was talking to us about his idea for this event – basically, which we were very supportive of. I haven’t had much involvement since then but when Malik contacted us and also the Mandela Memorial Campaign, which I’m involved in – headed up by Sonia Bassey and Stephen Nze It’s a campaign to put a Monument up for Nelson Mandela in Princes Park, in Liverpool 8. They planned a civic event to run together with the creative events, so they contacted me and I said, “Great! How can we help?” So we thought it was right that we have a civic reception, which we’ve done today and that events should be here in our halls that were built on slavery. These events being held this week in Liverpool of which this is one… include the opening a new Jamaican restaurant with ex-Liverpool football player John Barnes called “Marley’s” and Rumal (Rackley) was there as an honoured guest.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment