Jill Scott’s celebration of the 23rd Anniversary of “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1” is one of the hottest concert tickets of the 2023 summer concert season. And concertgoers at the Hollywood Bowl got to remember why her debut album is so beloved.
First, it is difficult to fathom that it’s been 23 years since our introduction to the lyrical brilliance of Jill Scott. A 20th anniversary celebration of the album was rescheduled as COVID-19 impacted everything. But Scott’s performance was well worth the wait.
Jill – our girl, our sister – told fans what to expect as she launched this tour. Scott said to expect “musical arrangements with new energy, expect theater, incredible musicianship, and love.” And did she deliver? Indeed, she did and gave so much more.
Scott’s voice is glorious in its range, clarity, and tone. She is the consummate performer and is totally herself onstage. Jill owned the night. You felt she was your friend, sharing stories of love, heartbreak, resilience, and joy.
True to her word, Scott performed “Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1” in its entirety, performing every song in the order of the album – an artist gift to every fan who has loved this album since 2000.
Scott, a spoken word poet discovered by the Roots Amir “Questlove” Thompson, easily interacted with the audience. She is comfortable onstage and wants the audience to experience those feelings of self-acceptance and, of course, love. Jill kept it honest when she spoke of discord and the things she dislikes about women and men, but she always ended with hopefulness and love.
The entire Bowl sang along to her songs as this album is loaded with hits. The songs on this album reflect so much of what is experienced in personal relationships, and Jill, the poet, gives us the words to describe our experiences and feelings. Who else would tell us that “slowly, surely, I walk away from self-serving, undeserving, constantly hurting me love.”
It’s Jill, the griot that takes up on a journey of losing and finding love. She introduces herself on “Jilltro” and says, “It’s nice to be here, so let me do my thang.” And that she did at the Bowl as she kicked off her set with “Do You Remember,” asking said man if he remembers when they built sandcastles in the sand, reminding him that he “named and claimed” her.
It was on to “Exclusively” – the secret revealing trip to the supermarket after a night of what Jill thought was exclusive loving. Women’s intuition rears its head as the cashier rang up her items, sniffing each time and finally asking Jill – Raheem, right?
Ever the storyteller, Scott continues with “Gettin in the Way,” where she tells sista-girl that she has to get over her breakup as she gets in the way of what Jill is feeling. “Queens shouldn’t swing, you know what I mean;” “You better back down before you get smacked down; you better chill.”
On “A Long Walk,” – Scott details her happiness about the possibility of a new love – “You’re here, I’m pleased, I really dig your company.” “Your style, your smile, your peace mentality. Lord, have mercy on me. I was blind. Now I can see what a king’s supposed to be. Baby, I feel free, come on and go with me.”
“I Think It’s Better” is a heartfelt revelation that she has met someone else and isn’t being heard on these new feelings, a sweet break your heart song… “I think it’s better that I tell you now; he’s so sweet and good, I can’t let him go.” Scott displays strong operatic skills and, of course, gives a beautiful exit to a love gone cold to one that she can’t live without.
Then it’s the monster hit “He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat). Scott has said this song was written while she was in a relationship with her former boyfriend, Lyzel Williams. With this song, Scott celebrates the specialness of love, “You invite me, you ignite me, you co-write me.” The song encourages anyone who has been in love to reflect on everything they love about their partner; and the trust, commitment, and communication it takes to navigate love…” you love me, especially different every time.”
Next up – “It’s Love,” the danceable ode to love included in a night of many sing-a-longs.
One of the songs that drew the most crowd-sung vocals was “The Way” – “woke up this mornin with a smile on my face…fixed me some breakfast, toast, two scrambled eggs, grits…
Then as only Scott could describe waiting by the phone with the haunting “Honey Molasses” – ebony majesty chocolate brown sugar, sweet epiphany.” And then, the voice message, “Don’t be afraid, okay? I hope you will call me back,” and he picks up the phone and says hello…hello…
“Love Rain” describes a magical meeting – “no jacket, no umbrella, we made delicious,” then a mockery of something beautiful, but love did rain down. Then there was “The Roots” interlude asking what her name is, Jill Scott representing lovely and North Philly. “Slowly Surely,” “One is the Magic #,” Watching Me,” and “Brotha” followed.
“Show Me,” – a song that asked many questions: “If I asked you to trust me on all things, could you do it?” If I needed you to replenish my faith in brothas’, could you do it? Ultimately, she needed him to show her, and who hasn’t asked for that?
“Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1” received three Grammy nominations at the 43rd Grammy Awards; Best New Artist, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for “Getting In the Way,” and Best R&B Album. The album also garnered nominations at the 44th Grammy Awards for “A Long Walk Home” and the 45th Grammy Awards for “He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)” (Movements I, II, III) for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
Scott would become a Grammy Award winner three times in 2005, for “Cross My Mind” – For Best Urban/Alternative Performance; In 2007, for “God Bless the Child” with George Benson and Al Jarreau for Best Traditional R&B Performance; and in 2008, for “Day Dreamin” with Lupe Fiasco for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.
There is no question that Jill Heather Scott still represents North Philly. Her debut album asked us to show our love to her, but no one had to ask this of the Hollywood Bowl audience as they stood on their feet and happily, enthusiastically showered Jill Scott with the love that she and this album deserved.