Its KEY

Still Jill

In Communication, Griot, Music, Networking, News on November 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm

“It really is up to us,” Jill Scott says, “to stop and smell our own damn flowers.” The singer is jet-lagged, y’all. It’s been less than a week since she returned to the States from her European tour, where she made headlines in London simply by rocking a freshly cropped, red-tinted, teen-weeny ‘fro. Now Jilly from Philly is finally back home in L.A., where she’s lived for the last few years. At the moment, she’s tidying up and trying to figure out how she can take a relaxing bath before her son, 3-year old Jett, returns home after staying with family members while she was away.

The conversation shifts to women and empowerment. Says Scott, “I look at us in amazement and think to myself, ‘You are not just your job or your size or your interests or your man o ryour children. You are a bountiful bouquet.” This comes straight from the 40-year old, who celebrated the milestone birthday in April on the set of her latest TV movie, Steel Magnolias. “I owe myself a party,” she says, laughing and remembering the moment. “Something happened. It was like somebody clicked on a light.”

With a NEW MOVIE, and A NEW ATTITUDE
our FAVORITE SISTA FRIEND is…
Still Jill

When Scott’s eyes adjusted to the shine, she saw a few things rather clearly: herself as a single mother “raising a little Black boy in America”; a new start in North Hollywood; and a businesswoman with her own label, Blues Babe Records, complete with a Warner Bros. Record distributing deal.

“I just felt it was time to grow,” the singer says of Blues Babe, inspired by a painful split with former label Hidden Beach. “I didn’t want to be under anybody’s thumb again or have to explain myself so much. That’s the best part of turning 40! I do not have to explain anything to anyone, and I don’t feel the need for approval. I am a lot of things, and to be confined in any way does not fit me. I don’t want to be in any boxes.”

As if.

The most cursory dig into Scott’s discography proves that she’s so original, she can’t be boxed in — musically or otherwise. That would be a silly, impossible notion. Go deep in side the musical crates, and it easy to understand why she is so revered, even beyond her unflinching and undeniable vocal prowess. People love Jill and are on a coveted Black America first-name basis with her because of the woman’s sheer willingness to go there and bring the listener along on the journey she takes in a single song; the shape-shifting and genre-bending, the passion, the theater and the drama. She has wiethin her an almost childlike sincerity and enthusiasm, whether she’s flashing that million-dollar smile or arching one shady brow. As she sings in “So Gone (What My Mind Says),” ‘This ain’t no movie, man. I’m a real woman…’

THIS FALL, SCOTT APPEARED in Lifetime TV’s highly anticipated Steel Magnolias, a remake of the 1989 classic film about the lives and friendship of six women in a small Louisiana town. The all-Black ensemble cast — directed by Kenny Leon– is in some ways an embarrassment of riches, featuring Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad, Queen Latifah, Adepero Oduye and Condola Rashad, the latter whom Scott described as “ridiculously great. Not only does she live up to her lineage [as Phylicia’s daughter], she exceeds it.”

Scott plays Truvy, a a genial, self-proclaimed “glamour technician” whose home-based beauty salon doubles as the womens proverbial kitchen table. In order to authentically deliver iconic lines such as, “There’s no such thing as natural beauty,” Scott recalled the accents of her family members,m who hail from Rocky MOunt, N.C. And although she says she refused to watch the original film again — “I didn’t want to do a Dolly Parton portrayal of Truvy” — she may have inadvertently taken a page out of the country legend’s book: they both attended beauty school to prepare for their roles. “I went so that I could learn how to hold a comb, put some curls in, move the chair with my leg,” Scott explains. “The simple nuances of a hairdresser.”

Although she has a theater background and several film credits, Scott is aware that, as a musician-turned actor, she is still on proving ground. “People know me as a singer and a writer. I didn’t want anybody to think I was just going to take on this incredible, difficult, challenging craft and treat it like it’s something I’m just trying“, she says. “It’s real work, and that 4 a.m. call never feels good.”

SCOTT HAS FOUR “CAREER” muses: “Whoopi. Barbara. Bette. Diana,” she says of Goldberg, Streisand, Midler and Ross, respectively. “Renaissance women, all. They have no boundaries. Whoopi Goldberg has [won] every award there is: Tony, Grammy, Oscar, Emmy! What’cha want? She’s got ’em. and she earned them.”

Scott’s takeway? “Longevity. Longevity is key,” she says, deliberate in her repetition.

Typically, three to four years pass between Scott’s album releases, during which the singer just … lives. Enjoys her son. Pryas. Falls in love. In her current musical lull, Scott is writing a lot of plays, poetry, “a television show or two” and an opera she’s been mulling over for a decade. And though she has no idea what her fifth studio album may be, she suggests listeners should expect the unexpected. “I’ve done a great deal in the urban contemporary market,” Scott says. “it’s time for me to branch out. ‘Cause I sing jazz, I sing funk, I sing blues, I sing classical music, I sing gospel– I sing. So it’s time to go further. If I’m supposed to be singing in Portuguese, there’s what’s gonna happen.”

Scott will offer no apologies for this, of course. She will be too busy tending to her garden, stopping to smell her own damn flowers.
__________________________________
[Karen Good Marable
Ebony Magazine – October 2012]

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