When the multi-talented Jill Scott had her breakthrough in 2000 with an album titled “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1,” she was a breath of fresh air.
The singer, poet, songwriter and actress emerged at a time when the record industry was becoming increasingly formulaic and imitative, and as radio station playlists continued to decrease and, more than ever, there was an obsession with “demographics.”
In many respects it is amazing that she got through, and on top of everything else, she was a plus-size woman working in a society and an industry that prefers “slim.” Perhaps she made note of the fact that being bigger did not hold mega-talents Queen Latifah and Oprah Winfrey back — because they would not allow it to.
Diana Ross once said that when she was contemplating her future at a very early age, she knew several things for sure, one of them being that failure was not an option.
And, as Berry Gordy Sr. (better known as “Pops”) often told his eight children, “Your gift will make room for you.”
NOTHING CAN stop a talented person with a clearly defined goal.
“I think every individual has his or her own power,” said Scott, “It’s a matter of working, taking time and defining what that power is.”
A gentleman who is from Detroit but now lives in New York recalls seeing Jill Scott when she was just starting out. He recognized right away that she had something special to offer.
And even though the small club was not nearly filled, Scott performed as though she was on stage at the Apollo Theater or Carnegie Hall, playing to a full house.
Scott being very pretty and having a great sense of style, both in hair and attire, are two additional factors working in her favor. But, of course, the talent is the main ingredient
The Philadelphia-born Jill Scott entered Temple University after graduation from high school, studying secondary education with intentions of becoming a teacher on the high school level.
HOWEVER, she became disillusioned with that profession after working as a teacher’s aide. The disappointment was so strong that she opted to drop out of college.
Most likely, the show business spirit was permeating her mind, encouraging her to consider options more in keeping with her artistic foundation.
Scott did not begin singing right away, and acting came later as well. She first presented herself to the public as a spoken word artist. Eventually, someone came along who could help take her career to the next level.
Amir Thompson, better known as “?uestlove,” asked Scott if she would be interested in going into the studio with his band, the Roots. (Currently the house band on “Late Night With David Letterman.”)
She subsequently co-wrote a song titled “You Got Me,” for which Erykah Badu and the Roots won a Grammy.
BOLSTERED by that success, Scott began performing on stage with increased assurance. For a time both she and Badu were performing “You Got Me.”
Word of Scott’s talents spread and soon she was collaborating with other notables, among them Common and Will Smith. She also joined the Canadian cast of the hit Broadway show “Rent.”
Following the success of “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1,” the rapidly ascending artist released a live album, “Experience: Jilll Scott 826+,” that captured the rapport she had, and continues to have, with her concert audiences. She is a particular favorite among Black women.
Scott continued her winning ways, her following growing steadily. Her third album, “Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds, Vol. 2,” was outstanding.
One highlight was “Bedda at Home,” with Scott acknowledging the appeal of a gentleman pursuing her, but making it clear that the man she had a home was all she needed.
A SECOND highlight is “Family Reunion.” On this one, with the music of the O’Jays song of the same name featured throughout, Scott tells us all about her family, the good, the not-so-good and everything in between. It’s poignant, sometimes funny…some of Scott’s best work, with her creativity with words and images at a peak.
None of this recording success stopped Jill Scott the poet from expressing herself in that medium. A book, “The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours,” was published in the spring of 2005.
Next up was an album titled “Collaborations,” which was actually a prelude, an “appetizer” as it were, for “The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3.” Once you hear “Hate On Me,” an indelible impression will have been made.
Scott’s most recent album is “The Light of the Sun,” released in mid-2011. But before that, fans were surprised to be offered “The Original Jill Scott From the Vault, Vol. 1.”
A STAUNCH believer in branching out as an artist, and showing her followers and the public in general what she was capable of as an actress, Scott began to make herself increasingly visible on the big and small screen.
Several appearances on the popular sitcom “Girlfriends” helped open the door to significant performances in movies.
She was fantastic in “Why Did I Get Married?” in which she gave a performance of Oscar quality. She reprised that role in “Why Did I Get Married Too?”
These are in addition to other TV and film roles.
There can be no denying that Jill Scott is here to stay. What she has done in the past is unforgettable, and whatever she does in the future will be equally as impactful.
We know who Jill Scott is. — SVH