The latest powerhouse joining the ranks of the one-name “songstress sisterhood” a-la Sade, Whitney, Mariah, Erykah & Mary, is the tremendously talented Jill. Sans Scott, you still tremble at the name.
Jill. Her “Beautifully Human” tour graciously made its rounds to C-town in Spring, leaving neo-soul heads and hip-hoppers lucky enough to see & hear her perform, mesmerized. Her Cleveland connection was brief but breathtaking! An unusually warm March evening outside-gave way to a buxom stage backdrop inside called Scott. The songstress silhouetted behind the velvet Playhouse curtain, was patiently waiting to bless the stage with her beauty not to mention, bomb-ass vocals! The indoor venue enhanced the natural acoustics emitting from windpipes that would not soon be forgotten.
Opening for Ms. Jill, was a label-mate. A faceless, nameless warm-up act designed to settle the roaring crowd, and create a diversion for the early birds. A sultry saxophonist followed– blowing instrumental ballads of Scott’s past playlists. The familiar tunes turned the awaiting larvae in our souls into butterflies in our bellies! SHE’S coming.
With the energy of the sax man’s odes-du-Jill still lingering. SHE stole the stage. SHE commanded her followers to their feet, and we humbly obliged. SHE could’ve commanded the sun to re-shine after retiring for the evening-and it would have done so with haste! Just her smile, her larger-than-life presence could’ve made mountains feel minuscule. “You’re here. I’m pleased. I really dig your company-y … ” and we yours, Jill. We couldn’t wait to take the Long Walk tonight.
3 songs in, Ms. Scott encouraged the entranced crowd to come closer to the stage. Despite being a mere 7 rows back, I still fought my way to the 6th, then 5th trying to come ever closer to the enigma that is SHE. We forfeited comfy seats in 7, to stand in stilettos in row 2 the rest of the show. The painful trade was well worth it.
The most palatable part of her show sprung from the song “Do You Remember?” She talked to the crowd as if she was having a “sistah-girl,” down-home talk about love and pride and just “keepin’ it real”! Her monologue reminding black men to “remember” her & other black women– to say “hello” when they see a black woman vs. turning up their noses at us. The primarily black female crowd erupted in enthusiastic applause, cheers, and “You go, girls!” Jill was speaking for us, and did it with style, poise and conviction.
Rounding out the show was “Gettin’ in the Way”, “It’s Love” and “The Way”. When Jill finally left the stage, the audience made it clear that they felt slighted-screaming out “He loves me!” … “He loves me!” Pause. “He loves me!” Silence. It seemed like forever, but Mama didn’t disappoint– returning to quench the thirsty crowd’s cries with a low, melodic hum echoing from behind the curtain. The roaring crowd grew instantly mute. Then … the ultimate serenade. “He loves meeee especialll-lly different… ever-y … time … ” SHE emerged. Again. This time, more beautiful and glowing than the first. Shrieks and screams drowned out the very tune we’d been waiting all concert to hear! “He Loves Me” lasted long .. but could’ve spanned a lifetime for all we cared-a fitting song to end not only a romantic evening, but a soulful showing from a singer who just oozes “black love.”
She sincerely & graciously thanked all of her us for “feeling” her & showing so much love. It was well earned. What’s most impressive about the melody was her “down to earth” demeanor-despite being obviously BEAT from throat to feet! As she stood stage-front, sweaty, bottled water bobbing from a bent finger, grinning like a Cheshire cat on Quaaludes tears welled up in her eyes. The pure emotion flooding those beautiful brown windows, showed her soul. And it was real. It was real. We cried right along with her.
Jill Scott is a force to be reckoned with now, and for many decades to come. She’s bringing back the lost art of love, being IN love, GIVING love & just ENJOYING life in its simplest forms. Her music spoke to us. No it roared, hummed, and howled like a beautiful banshee! Keep doing what you do, girl. We’re listening.
Miss. January .J. Keaton
AM PA – 19 Action News