Happy Birthday to legendary singer Jill Scott

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We wish a VERY happy birthday to the great Jill Scott, born April 4, 1972. Was there been a bigger surprise in the world of Soul Music in the first decade of the tweny-first century than Jill Scott? As the new Millennium began, when both the soul and self-respect of modern urban radio were in question, Scott, along with artists such as Alicia Keys and India.Arie, captured audiences with a style of music that recalled the hopefulness of early 70s Soul music but with a modern sensibility. While each was important in opening doors to a new generation of female Soul singers, Scott, with her insightful, positive lyrics put to retro grooves, was perhaps the most important in demonstrating that intelligent, gentle prose – rather than simply a strong beat – could serve as a viable underpinning for modern Soul Music.

Philadelphia native Scott is a poet who also happens to be a great singer, and her lyrics came to the attention of a number of artists in the late 90s, resulting in her work being recorded by the Roots and Eric Benet, among others. She was signed to the fledgling adult Soul label, Hidden Beach Records, in 2000. Her debut album, the aptly titled Words and Sounds Vol. 1, climbed the Soul and Pop album charts on the strength of the single, “A Long Walk.” If the Neo-Soul movement had a rap against it, it was that it was perceived as largely “man-hating.” Scott turned this stereotype on its ear, creating positive, intelligent songs that spoke sometimes candidly but often touchingly about love, with a element of appreciation and faith often absent from the material of many of her peers.

Following the success of Words, in 2001 Scott released The Experience: Jill Scott 826+, a live album that captured Scott’s critically acclaimed live performances and also provided alternate versions of many songs from Words.

Scott then took a couple years off, basking in the glow of her new marriage to husband Lyzel (about whom she sang on Words and Sounds). In 2003 she began working in earnest on Beautifully Human, her second studio album, which was released in 2004. It was also a big hit, and continued the singer’s dominance on the adult R&B charts.

Disputes with the Hidden Beach label in 2010 certainly slowed down Scott’s recording career, but she continued to record for Warner Bros and Atlantic, even as older vault material was issued by Hidden Beach. Her Light of the Sun album in 2010, and Woman in 2015 were both dynamite.

Scott also showed her chops as an actress over the years, appearing in UPN’s Girlfriends, HBO’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, and the TV adaptation of The First Wives Club, among other shows.

With her acting and touring careers, Jill Scott has remained busy, but we can never hear enough of her music. Happy Birthday, Jilly from Philly!

By Chris Rizik

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