Published Jan 01, 2006"It's not about what I wear, or how I do my hair, or who did my make-up, or what brand name I'm sportin', it's none of that," says singer/spoken word artist Jill Scott. "It's the focus. The focus is when I sing I bring my spirit." Clearly evident on her accomplished debut, Who Is Jill Scott?, Scott's assuredness, inner focus and impressive command of her voice stems from experiences such as appearing in the Vancouver run of the musical Rent and showcasing poetry and song at her own "Words and Sounds" shows in her hometown of Philadelphia to a dedicated following.
After seeing one of the shows, the Roots' drummer, Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, invited Scott to a studio session where she ended up penning the chorus to "You Got Me," the Roots' first bona fide hit single, with her vocal role being eventually assumed by Erykah Badu. She also toured with the live hip-hop band, but for her own full-length, Scott instead chose to ally herself with DJ Jazzy Jeff of Fresh Prince fame and hatch the project with his A Touch of Jazz Productions team. "I chose not to work with the Roots, not because I don't love them or anything crazy like that," she says. "I was already known as their hook girl,' I definitely wanted to stand on my own two feet."
With mellifluous, superbly paced accompaniment from her cohorts, Scott, inspired by the vivid anthropological explorations of Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston, flits effortlessly from spoken verse to full vocal throttle, informing the proceedings with indefinable tangibility. "Singing is actually my first love, but I realised that if you don't have anything good to sing about, then you're just singing," says Scott. "I wanted to actually say something on my album." Primarily broaching relationship issues, Scott brings uncommon depth and detail to her work that may evade the casual listener. "It's not so cut and dry and that's fine with me," says Scott "cuz I'm not so cut and dry either."