Artist News Gigs & Festivals

Dave Okumu discusses Convergence’s Gil Scott-Heron tribute

By | Published on Thursday 10 March 2016

Dave Okumu

As the Convergence festival gets underway today, CMU’s sister media ThisWeek London has spoken to Dave Okumu of The Invisible, who is music director on one of the stand-out events of this year’s programme, a special concert celebrating the work and legacy of the late great Gil Scott-Heron.

Anna Calvi, Jamie Woon, Kwabs, Nadine Shah, Andreya Triana, Loyle Carner, Gwilym Gold and Joan As Police Woman are amongst those set to revisit and reinterpret some of the spoken word pioneer’s greatest works this weekend.

“Glenn and I put a great deal of thought into what material we should focus on” Okumu says of the creative process behind the show, “and then started a long conversation about who might be an appropriate fit. Glenn has a real gift for creative programming. I had a really positive experience working with him on the Beck ‘Song Reader’ show at the Barbican a little while ago; he matched artists to the material with real ingenuity there, so I felt very confident we would find the right ingredients for this new show”.

He goes on: “It’s been an exciting process, because you never know who will have the courage to participate in a project like this. You might have a great idea of who might work for what piece, but the artist has to be able to envisage the validity of their contribution to such a significant body of work. This takes real boldness. I have huge admiration for all the artists who have taken on the challenge”.

Commenting on the continued relevance of Scott-Heron’s work, both in terms of his artform and his socio-political message, Okumu adds: “It’s almost alarming to see how relevant Gil’s work is right now. Although I think any voice that encourages us to keep our eyes and ears open will remain relevant throughout the passage of time. Through his music and poetry he spoke about the plight of the impoverished and marginalised, about immigration, social disquiet, institutional dysfunction, the absence of compassion, the need for humour… it’s difficult not to associate his work with the climate we live in now, with its inherent discrepancies and its failure to engage with life’s most pressing issues”.

You can read the full interview here, and get tickets for the show, which takes place this Sunday at The Roundhouse, here.