It’s difficult to pin just one label on Jill Scott because when she removes one crown, there’s another one waiting to take its place.
“I’m a lot of things. I’m a singer. I am a writer. But I’m also an actor, and I’m a poet. And I approach my creativity where it encompasses all of that stuff. As a woman, no body is just one thing,” she explains during VH1’s annual show Storytellers.
Jill is also a mother and all around fabulous woman, but the crown a top her head on May 21 was storyteller.
Showcasing her acting chops and vocal ability, Jill performed eight songs using a variety of personas during the hour-long show.
“Tonight was an experiment. It takes a lot of different women to make up one woman. Because we do it all. Don’t we?” she asks rhetorically.
First up was the flaming, long red-haired, neck snapping, I-keeps-it-real-at-all-times-chick obviously engrossed in a phone conversation with a friend, proudly boasting about telling her ex-boyfriend lies about his current girlfriend.
A knock on the door reveals the current girlfriend on the other side, leading into Jill’s first release from Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1, Gettin’ In The Way, which totally shocked me because, having seen her live too many times to count at this point, I noticed this is one song that never makes it on the set list.
Staying in character the entire time, Jill’s repeat of the first verse was much faster the second time around (it reminded me of her live album version). After being told about herself, the red head says with much attitude, “The next time you come knocking on somebody’s door, I suggest you bring backup.”
Switching gears 360 degrees, the next character was a I’m a well-educated, well-traveled, a little stuffy, I-don’t-do-Ebonics or let my hair down woman who crosses paths with a “ghetto thug.” That thug, however, has rocked her world, having her up at 11:30 every night doing things she can’t quite explain – but the song Cross My Mind (on Beautifully Human, Words and Sounds Vol. 2) provides enough details for you to draw your own conclusions.
The beat from the guitar is downright sexy, sexual and hot. “The interesting thing about music is, you hear that?” Jill says referring the aforementioned guitar. “Doesn’t that feel dirty and nasty? Sounds like good loving in the summertime.”
Before performing The Fact Is (I Need You) (from Beautifully Human, Words and Sounds Vol. 2) Jill explains the plight of a storyteller. As a writer, she says, the words are often just blurted out. But there are times when it’s a labor of love and “the tears fall onto the paper.”
Along with witnessing the raw and pure emotion in her facial expressions, you could hear a certain vulnerability in her voice. With eyes brimming with tears, she expressed to men, “I need you uncles. I need you brothas. I need you grandpa. I need you neighbor. I need you friend. I need stepdad. I need you daddy.”
“When I wrote that song I felt like I was speaking for a lot of people. Not just women either. For a lot of people,” she says.
Jill’s next character preceding song The Way (from Who is Jill Scott?, Words and Sounds Vol. 1) is a soft-spoken, soon-to-be-married woman who had almost given up on love, but finds the one.
“I’m getting married today. In just a few hours. I’m gonna marry the most incredible human being I’ve ever met,” the character says. “I was one of those people that didn’t believe in love anymore, and he showed up like a thief in the night. Didn’t expect it.
“It was really hard for me to accept it cause I had gotten hard and cold. But I’m getting married in a in few hours.”
Again, having seen her perform this song a variety of ways, she stayed pretty true to the album version, which was a nice because it’s probably been almost 10 years since I’ve heard it performed close to the original.
If you’ve never seen Jill perform live, there’s usually always a point in the show where she turns into an opera singer during He Loves Me (Lyzel In E Flat).
The inspiration behind her operatic voice occurred when Jill was age 16 and encountered operatic soprano star Kathleen Battle at the Academy of Music. “Everything changed right then and there. She was graceful, and it was beautiful, and I just knew that somehow or another that has to be a part of my life somewhere,” she says.
“You better live that life like it’s yours. It’s the only one you got and nobody else has control of it at this point. You are grown people. Make something magical everyday if you have the opportunity. This is a good life, might as well enjoy it. Taste the fruit of your labor,” she says.