“I have been giving you my heart for the last twenty years,” Jill Scott told the sold-out crowd who came to see he at the Fox Sunday night. “And I’ve had a hell of a time.”
At the turn of the millennia, singer/actress/poet Jill Scott introduced herself with a proverbial mic drop that was “Who Is Jill Scott? Words And Sounds Vol. 1” Even with the neosoul movement in full swing – an era in R&B that saw musicians like Maxwell, D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, her collaborative partners The Roots and others remix the genre by reverting to instrument driven and emotionally compelling music of its origins – Jill Scott stood out.
To quote her own lyrics (from “He Loves Me”), Scott and her album were “different and special in every way imaginable.” Unapologetic and authentic, her full figure, afro and unique sound became symbols of self-love as her album dissected the delights and dysfunctions of love with sprinkles of black empowerment, self-renewal and political statements.
Sunday night Scott reminded the fans – and herself – of the masterpiece that was “Who Is Jill Scott?” 20 years after its original release, and the magical relationship she has enjoyed with fans for two decades because of it.
“Thank you so much,” Scott told the crowd as she wiped away tears of joy from her face. “Thank you so much for singing along too.”
After a pleasant spin session from St. Louis’ own DJ Kut, Scott gave fans exactly what they hoped for when she took the stage to celebrate the album’s anniversary. Except for the bonus track “Try,” they got the whole entire thing. And aside from a few miniscule reroutes, she served up the 16 selections as they appear on the album.
She opened the show with the first track on the album “Do You Remember.” In a stunning metallic jumpsuit, Scott appeared on stage as timeless as the album. She looked and sounded spectacular in the jumper and big hair that gave the appearance of a disco queen as opposed to a soul goddess. As she sang the song, classic black couples from television and film played on a screen behind the band. Scenes from “House Party,” “The Royal Family” and “The Jeffersons” were just a few.
She switched earrings and shoes early on in the show for comfort and for the sake of the drama within her breakthrough single “Getting’ in the Way,” which plays out a confrontation with a love rival that is discovered through the spoken word piece “Exclusively.”
Midway through the show, Scott changed into an African inspired kimono with an etching of her likeness on the back.
Scott was intentional as she presented the deconstructed love story – the willingness to fight for love and the fullness of finding a soulmate and the heartache of losing that love and the self-discovery that happens during the healing process.
“Real love is a risk,” Scott told the crowd in several personal and community empowerment sermons she delivered over the course of the evening. “Love is to forgive yourself. Love is saying, ‘I will let go of the pain. Love is saying, ‘I’m open to learn, and I’m open to listen.”
The lessons continued as she moved through the narrative that “Who Is Jill Scott?” provides through songs like “It’s Love,” “Honey Molasses,” “Love Rain,” “Slowly, Surely” and “One is the Magic.”
“You are going to [expletive] up. You are going to get it wrong,” Scott said. “You’re going to be misled at some point. The [expletive] is going to be wack. But you will rise again, and again, and again. This is life, darling. She is a marathon. She is not a sprint.”
She became emotional as she talked about her own journey through music – which wasn’t without pitfalls and shortcomings as she provided inspiration to those who are still on the path to their purpose. “I’ve been a maid for a theater company. I worked demolition – I tore down walls and used a jackhammer. I [expletive] up my back because I didn’t know how to use it,” Scott said. “I served 3,742 scoops of ice cream. I must have called at least 12 people because telemarketing is the worst.”
She shared the heartache of watching her first album’s slow climb – how she cried when the album sold 8,000 copies its first week.
“Next week it was 16K, then it was 32 – and it kept on going. I couldn’t imagine.”
The fans who sang along to every single word couldn’t imagine anything else.
She vented he frustrations with the music business with “Dear Mr. & Mrs. Record Industry” from
“The Original Jill Scott From The Vault Vol. 1,” which was one of only two selections not from “Who Is Jill Scott.”
The other would be her encore “Golden,” from her sophomore album “Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Volume 2,” because she thought the song was the perfect note to end on.
“Twenty years,” Scott said. “What a ride.”