Get the latest from TODAY
Many music careers are over in four years — but that’s how long Jill Scott waited to release her second album.
Not that Scott took a break. She released a live album in 2001, wrote a forthcoming book of poetry called “The Minutes, The Moments, The Hours,” appeared on the UPN sitcom “Girlfriends,” started the Blues Babe foundation (named after her grandmother) for aspiring college students and worked on a Showtime movie called “Cave Dwellers,” which should be out later this year.
Still, with some of Scott’s sound-sisters like Erykah Badu falling off the radar, there’s been a definite lack of the sexy, reflective neo-soul that Scott showcases on the new CD “Beautifully Human — Words and Sounds Vol. 2.”
“I needed to diversify or I was going to feel trapped and I didn’t want my artistry to feel trapped,” says Scott, 32. “I needed to diversify so that I could create music. Sometimes you have to walk away to know how much you love something.”
Scott also needed to walk away to have something to write about.
“I have to be around people, it’s important as a writing tool to watch faces, to watch expressions, to catch that thought in (someone’s) head, that distant thing. I like to see people kiss on the street — I always clap — I like to see people having an argument.”
The problem was, it was harder for the Philadelphia-born ingenue to observe people unnoticed after her double platinum, Grammy-nominated debut, “Who Is Jill Scott? — Words and Sounds Vol. 1.” That’s another reason she chose to step back.
“When you get to a certain point it seems like (celebrities) have to make up things or hire writers because they become hermits,” she said. But “if it’s not true than I can’t sing it.”
Scott also married her longtime boyfriend and co-manager, Lyzel Williams, which invigorated her words and spirit. “I needed to go home to see my family and hang out with my husband,” she says. “I didn’t want to miss that first year of marriage.”
Not worried about reactionWith all that love and support, there aren’t many things that Scott worries about, including public reaction to her new release.
“If I had been nervous I wouldn’t have taken two years to myself,” she says, “or I would have tried my best to struggle and rush and work with producers that everyone knows off the top of their heads.”
Instead of enlisting the likes of Kanye West or Lil’ Jon, she stuck with her original collaborators: James Poyser, Andre Harris & Vidal Davis, and Mama’s Boys’ Ivan & Carvin.
One new addition was Raphael Saadiq. “We [already] had some music for her,” Saadiq said. “and she actually walked in the studio and sang it one time and said ’I think that’s it’ and walked out.”
Although the first “Beautifully Human” single, “Golden,” is not burning up the charts, Scott is content to let the album gradually reach its fan base. In fact, she prefers a certain mid-level fame to keep herself sane and grounded.
“I’m hoping that it doesn’t ever get that big cause that’s not right,” she says. “In my opinion that’s just not fair to a human spirit.”
Jilly from Philly (as her fans affectionately call her) is clearly in her comfort zone now, and looking to artists like Sade for inspiration.
“I appreciate her career so much,” Scott says, “’cause she’ll take off eight years and come back with something magical and beautiful and very Sade.”
So it’s fair to say that Scott probably won’t be running back into the studio soon.
“I do think it’s very important to take some time and live if that’s what your lyrics are. If your lyrics are about very surface things (like) money, cars, clothes, and surface love then you don’t need a lot of time, you can just keep on the grind.”
“My hope,” she says, “is to run the marathon and not run the race.”