“Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream. And Stevie Wonder had a dream. This is a book about dreams.”
In the Fall of 1980, Gil Scott-Heron was invited by Stevie Wonder to join him on a forty-one city tour across America that would end in Washington on January 15, 1981. The purpose of this tour was to raise popular support for the creation of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a national holiday that would honor the great civil rights leader. This holiday became official in 1986. Scott-Heron uses this history-making tour as the backbone of his fascinating memoir.
Raised by his grandmother in Jackson, Tennessee, Scott-Heron’s journey from these humble beginnings to becoming one of the most uncompromising and influential musicians and songwriters of his generation is a remarkable one. Frequently cited as the godfather of rap, Scott-Heron’s poetic output spanned from the politically savvy to the savagely satirical, from the socially conscious to the tenderhearted. His unexpected death in May 2011 robbed America of one its most vocal and articulate artists and resulted in an extraordinary outpouring of appreciation for him and his work from all around the world. Chuck D of Public Enemy said of Scott-Heron, “we do what we do and how we do because of you.” Eminem added, “Scott-Heron influenced all of hip-hop,” and from Sarah Silverman, “he mirrored ugliness with beauty, audacity, and valor.”
This posthumous publication of The Last Holiday is a fitting testament to the career and achievements of Gil Scott-Heron. But it is also a heartfelt and highly personal account of his growing up in the South, a touching portrait of Stevie Wonder, and a compelling narrative vehicle for Scott-Heron’s keen insights into the music industry, the civil rights movement, modern America, governmental hypocrisy, and our wider place in the world.