Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Jill Scott: Jill Scott talent

Jill Scott
Jill Scott

The following six words perfectly sum up the sheer brilliance and uniqueness of this particular artist. Those words are simply: “Jill Scott. Jill Scott. Jill Scott.” Respected and adored by music fans here, she is in possession of a sublime talent as a singer, songwriter, poet, performer and an accomplished actress.

But with deserved success comes that unavoidable by-product called FAME. That’s something Jill is uneasy about, as she tells me: “I want more money, I just don’t want any more fame. I’m more a fan of art and creativity, than I am of fame.”

The worst part of being Jill Scott? “I’d love to get the full fruit of my labour, I just don’t want any more fame. I think that’s the hardest part. I’d like to expand my creativity; I’m just not a fame whore.”

“Anonymity is the corner-stone of being a good writer. You are able to exist in an environment without being seen. I love meeting the people and talking about everything except what I do. I love being in an environment where I can listen to conversations; I am a little bit of an eaves-dropper. Because I love writing so much, that’s the hard part; trying to keep my feet on the ground while soaring at the same time.”

So it’s a trade off then? Talent + success + fame = the downside and the part Jill Scott doesn’t enjoy?

“Yeah, it is a trade off. I can’t soar the way my heart desires without having to deal with the other part of it. There are places that I can’t go and be comfortable. I don’t like to travel with security, but I do it because I have to. I don’t enjoy that.”

“I have had to change my life. I moved to California and live in a small town; that way I can go grocery shopping with peace of mind. I like to do my own shopping. I like taking walks and riding my bike, without having someone follow me to take pictures of me. I am a normal person that loves and appreciates the gift she’s been given.”

“As a writer you have to be still, and there’s nothing better than sitting under a tree or a park bench watching and scrutinising life. That’s where the inspiration comes from. You have to almost be invisible to write.”

“I want respect and sure, I want to sell millions of records, but it’s a part of it I have to accept. It goes along with it, and believe me I’m not complaining. This is the best life I have ever had, it is my all-time favourite life!” Speaking to me from her US home, 40-year-old Jill is not only a globally successful singer, but the Philadelphia-born star is known to millions as an actress too. She starred in the film version and then the hit HBO/BBC TV drama “The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” where she took the lead part. The series was such a hit in Botswana where it was filmed, that the country issued postage stamps adorned with Scott’s likeness.

She made her cinematic debut in the movie “Hound Dog,” playing Big Mama Thornton. She starred in the film “Cavedwellers,” alongside Kevin Bacon. Jill starred in Tyler Perry’s widely-successful “Why Did I Get Married” and the sequel “Why Did I Get Married Too.” She was an alcoholic, single-mother in the hit film “The Sins of the Mother.”

So does she ever get tempted to withdraw from public life? “I do that every few months. I have to balance this thing out and have this make sense for me. I am in the public eye for four or five months, so when I come home I take half the time I have spent publicly, and spend it privately. I am with my son and we just hang out. We go swimming, sleep in the hammock, we play games, we take walks, we go to the park, we go to a movie. I sing to him all the time, and he sings to me. We have a karaoke machine. His favourite is “Row, row, row your Boat.” He plays the drums while I sing. It is hilarious and the best show ever!” Jill’s three-year-old son is Jett Hamilton Roberts, from her former relationship with one of her musicians, Lil' John Roberts. She was already divorced from her husband. She guardedly says she is now “very happy” in her life, when I ask if she is in a relationship today…..

Jill is due back to the UK – after a triumphant set at this year’s Southport weekender - for two shows at London’s Somerset House on 9th and 10th July. She promises: “Full on creativity, an incredible band, lots of energy, passion, honesty, strength, weaknesses and beautiful music.” Some “powerful moments,” and songs from all of her albums from the last 12 years.

There may even be a spontaneous moment, where they create a new song there and then. New material? “If we decide to create something while we are there, maybe. I love this band, I’ve had many but this is my favourite band.” That’s a six piece + 3 background singers.

Jill’s last album, “Light Of The Sun” was released a year ago, and she reveals that after an autumn tour she is starting work on the next one, slated for autumn 2013 release. Jill is brutally honest in her songs, and bares her soul. Revealing warts and all about her private life, including divorce and splitting with her fella while she was pregnant with his baby. So, did she ever regret being so frank, and did it ever backfire on her?

“Absolutely. I can’t help myself, I wish I could. It’s almost like Tourettes. I am propelled, I almost feel like I am forced. I live inside of music. I reveal myself for art’s sake. I don’t know how to give half. When I get a paper and pen or I’m in front of a microphone, I could make it gentle and tender, but it won’t be true to me. Whatever I write I end up having to sing for the rest of my life, so I don’t wanna lie and have to sing that lie forever.”

“I’m like a writing-music junkie. I have to do it. I’m compelled to do it, I don’t have a choice. I would love to say that I do but I don’t, I just don’t.”


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