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June 22, 2023 • 8:00 pm PDT
When Jill Scott began working on her first album in 2000, she was an understudy for a production of Rent that was touring Canada. Now, she’s one of R&B and soul’s most influential and beloved singers and songwriters. Or, as Essence puts it, “Jill is Black culture at its highest, purest form—innovative, creative, radiating pride, connected to our roots, a beautifully breathing embodiment of love for ourselves, our loved ones, and our community.” And it all started with Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1.
Now, she brings that warm, thoughtful, and empowering debut back around, performing it in its entirety. Who is Jill Scott? reshaped the priorities of R&B music, bringing it closer to the earthiness of soul and the socially conscious sounds of Philadelphia rap groups like The Roots, going beyond genre in pursuit of connection and authenticity. It’s an approach we take for granted now—such is the impact of the singer Entertainment Weekly said “boasts the gutsiest voice of any neo-soul star.” But its deepest impact is on the emotional lives of those who saw themselves in songs like “Gettin’ in the Way,” “A Long Walk,” and “He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat),” all of which were nominated for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance Grammys. “These stories set free and inspired the audience—especially women—to simultaneously navigate love and their Black humanity,” as Vibe says. Twenty-three years after we first met her, Jilly from Philly says hello once again.