Jill Scott (born April 4, 1972) is an American soul and R&B singer-songwriter, poet, and actress. In 2007, Scott made her cinematic debut in the films Hounddog (as Big Mama Thornton) and in Tyler Perry's feature film, Why Did I Get Married? That year, her third studio album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3, was released on September 25, 2007. She has won three Grammy Awards. She also appeared in the lead role of the BBC/HBO series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.
Scott grew up an only child in a North Philadelphia neighborhood, raised by her mother, Joyce Scott, and her grandmother. She indicated in an interview with Jet Magazine that she had a happy childhood and was "very much a loved child".Scott was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls. After graduating, she attended Temple University while simultaneously working two jobs. She studied secondary education for three years and had planned to become a high school English teacher, but after spending time as a teacher's aide, disillusionment with the teaching profession set in causing her to drop out of schoo.
2000-2009: Words and Sounds
Scott began her performing career as a spoken word artist, appearing at live poetry readings to perform her work. She was eventually discovered by Amir "?uestlove" Thompson of The Roots. ?uestlove invited her to join the band in the studio. The collaboration resulted in a co-writing credit for Scott on the song, "You Got Me." In 2000, Erykah Badu and The Roots won a Grammy for best rap performance by a duo or group for "You Got Me", and Scott debuted as an artist during a Roots live show, singing as original artist/singer of the song. Subsequently, Scott collaborated with Eric Benet, Will Smith, and Common, and broadened her performing experience by touring Canada in a production of the Broadway musical Rent.
Scott was the first artist signed to Steve McKeever's 'Hidden Beach Recordings' label. Her debut album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 was released in 2000. She experienced some notice and chart success with the single "A Long Walk", eventually earning a Grammy nomination in early 2003 for Best Female Vocal Performance. Scott lost that award, but won a 2005 Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative R&B Performance for "Cross My Mind." The live album, Experience: Jill Scott 826+, was released November 2001. Scott's second full-length album, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2, followed in 2004.
2010-Present: The Light of the Sun
Following up 2007's Grammy nominated Gold certified album The Real Thing, Jill is currently about to release her fourth studio album titled The Light of the Sun. The album embarks Jill on a flurry of emotional poetry as both her career and personal life have skyrocketed with success in Hollywood and the birth of her first child.
In an interview with HitQuarters, producer and album collaborator JR Hutson commented on Scott's approach to the record by saying, "She’s now in charge of a lot of different things and with it comes a lot of trials and tribulations, and I think her goal is to just give people a very realistic glimpse of where she is in her life right now.
Scott is a vocalist who infused jazz, R&B, spoken word, and hip hop among other genres to create a distinct style that many refer to as neo soul. Her vocal capabilities are so rich that a reviewer on Pop Matter, referring to Scott's vocal ability, stated 'Scott draws on her upper register, recalling the artistry of the late "songbird" Minnie Riperton and Deniece Williams'. The same reviewer in another article stated, 'The song evokes the artistry of Minnie Riperton as Scott sings in the upper register that makes its only appearances on Who is Jill Scott? on the teasing "I Think It's Better" and "Show Me." Scott has "a very rare facility to hit notes in the sixth octave as displayed on songs such as 'Gimme' where she hits a D6 with full vibrato, and on 'Spring Summer Feeling' where she hits a C7 in the background.
Film and television
On the advice of her good friend, director Ozzie Jones, she began pursuing a career in acting in 2000.She joined a fellowship at a theater company in Philadelphia. For two years, she took small, menial jobs in exchange for acting lessons.
In 2004, Scott expanded her resume by appearing in several episodes of season four of UPN's Girlfriends, playing Donna, a love interest to main character, William Dent (Reggie Hayes). She also appeared in the Showtime movie Cavedwellers, starring Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick.
In 2007, Scott appeared in Hounddog (as Big Mama Thornton) and in Tyler Perry's movie, Why Did I Get Married?
In 2008, Scott appeared as Precious Ramotswe in Anthony Minghella's film adaption of Alexander McCall Smith's series of books The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency playing a detective. Scott then filmed additional episodes for the series in Botswana in late 2008, co-funded by the BBC and HBO that were broadcast as a seven-part series on BBC1 in March 2009; and on HBO, which debuted March 29, 2009. BBC and HBO are contemplating whether to produce a second round of episodes of the series.
In 2010 she voiced Storm of the Xmen on the BET series Black Panther.
Scott and longtime boyfriend Lyzel Williams, a graphic artist and DJ, married in 2001 in a private Hawaiian ceremony during a vacation. The couple dated for seven years before they wed. Scott wrote and recorded the song "He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)" about Williams. After six years of marriage, Scott and Williams divorced in 2007.
On June 20, 2008, at a concert in New York's Carnegie Hall, Scott shared a long on-stage kiss with her drummer, Lil' John Roberts; the couple then told the audience that they were engaged. They expected their first child on April 25, 2009 but the baby boy, Jett Hamilton Roberts, arrived five days earlier. On June 23, 2009, Scott announced that she and Roberts had broken up, with Scott breaking the news to Essence. Despite the break-up, Scott hopes for both parents to have an active part in their child's upbringing, stating that "We definitely love our son and we are co-parenting and working on being friends. It is what it is. I have a lot of support, so I want for nothing as far as that's concerned." During her 2010 tour with Maxwell, Scott has introduced her music band and Roberts is no longer a member. He is now a member of Mo'Nique's band on The Mo'Nique Show.
Charity work and advocacy
Scott has established the Blues Babe Foundation, a program founded to help young minority students pay for university expenses. The Blues Babe Foundation offers financial assistance to students between the ages of sixteen to twenty-one, and targets students residing in Philadelphia, Camden, and the greater Delaware Valley. Scott donated USD$100,000 to help start the foundation. The foundation was named after Scott's grandmother, known as "Blue Babe". On the foundation's website, it defines its mission statement as one where it "seeks to provide financial support and mentoring for those students who have shown the aptitude and commitment to their education, but whose families may not have the resources to ensure completion of their undergraduate degrees".
In Spring 2003, the Blues Babe Foundation made a donation of more than $60,000 to the graduating class of the Creative Arts School in Camden, New Jersey. Any student who maintained a 3.2 GPA received a yearly stipend for the next three years that was put toward his or her college education.