In the modern music scene it’s rare to find an icon who relies on talent alone to succeed. Lauryn Hill has superseded icon status and remained true to who she is.
She’s given us songs about love, betrayal, and knowing your value as a woman. She’s opened her heart to us with her music and brought an element of rawness and humanity we can all relate to. Throughout all this, she’s remained poised and eternally stunning.
Hill grew up in South Orange, New Jersey and got her start in entertainment at an early age. She first appeared on the soap opera “As The World Turns” in 1991 when she was just 16. She then went on to star alongside Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.
Hill met her future bandmates Prakazrel “Pras” Michel and his cousin Wyclef Jean in high school and formed the group Tranzlater Crew before renaming it The Fugees. Hill’s pitch perfect, full voice made her the perfect lead singer for the hip hop and R&B infused sound the Fugees eventually became known for. Hill had just completed her first year of college at Columbia University when The Fugees first album Blunted on Reality released and was received to mixed reviews.
It took three years for the Fugees to release their second album, the tremendously successful The Score.
In The Score, Hill soulfully covered the Roberta Flack hit “Killing Me Softly” taking it to the number two spot on the U.S. airplay chart in 1996. The single for the Fugees anthem “Fu-Gee-La” was the band’s highest selling single and has been gold certified by RIAA. The Score sold 17 million copies and cemented the Fugees iconic status earning them two Grammy awards for Best Rap Album and Best R&B performance by a duo or group.
The Fugees occasionally reunited for live performances but did not put out another album.
In 1998 Hill came out with her first solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The album’s lead single “Doo Wop (That Thing)” gave listeners the freedom the let go of pretense and love themselves. The song garnered Hill Best R&B Female Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song at the 1999 Grammy Awards. The album eventually went on to win five Grammys, including Best New Artist, Best R&B Song, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, Best R&B Album and Album of the Year. Miseducation took Hill to pioneer status as she was one of the first artists to bring hip hop to the mainstream.
Hill appeared on the February 8, 1999 cover of Time Magazine in an article that illustrated how she brought hip hop to the masses. Hill went on an international tour in 1999 to promote the album.
Hill dropped out of the public eye after the fame brought on by her tremendous success. She eventually returned to the music scene in 2002 when she recorded her live album MTV Unplugged No. 2.0. The album was the recording of an MTV Unplugged special she had recorded in New York City in Times Square with all new songs sandwiched with her personal anecdotes. The album was not received well by critics or the public.
After another hiatus, Hill has been touring consistently since 2013 and is bringing her legendary sound to Club Nokia Theater on Saturday May 17th.