“Be honest, brutally honest. That is what’s going to maintain relationships”–Lauryn Hill
I wrote an honest opinion about the restuarant La Cremaillere on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s just my opinion. A lot of people read it. I have graditude for that support base. Opinions matter. I always have one. You should have one, too. It should come from a good place. It should be brutally honest. I ask guys that I date, “Do you want to get married, yes or no?” There is a very simple answer to this question. My answer for the record is yes.
Lauryn Hill says, “Everything is everything, Everything is everything, After winter, must come spring, Everything is everything”.
This is just one of her philosophies that has paid off over time and lead to multi-million dollar record sales. I recently went to her concert and formed an very positive opionion. Lauryn Hill, like me, is also not married. I don’t know if her answer would be yes or no, but I do know she had five of her six children with one Marley man. Hill is a working mother, nearing 40 and very clearly taking care of herself and her kids.
Her maternal energy on stage is strong making it hard to imagine that like all of us said mortals her path went through high school. Lauryn’s resume as I understand strictly through the record of Wikipedia, reads deep. It is clear she is the decision maker behind what relationships she does and doesn’t keep. An over-achiever in high school, she juggled academics, the student body, sports and music with a budding acting career that brought her small rolls like the one beside Whoopi Goldberg in the Sister Act. She has worked hard to get here and continues.
Ms. Hill came live to The Capitol Theater in Port Chester on Friday night, January 31st. This is a very initimate venue reserved for independent artists that operate on the highest of playing fields but appreciate the most basic levels. The theater is unique like that. The floor is general addmission, no seats. The upper balcony is better seating, a different vantage point but no better acoustics. You can’t buy the perfect seat in this theater and that is what makes it perfect. You can also park free on the street and walk to the venue.
I image that for preformers who have repeatedly sold out MSG, the small venue is a humbling place of graditude. Not everyone fits here. Lauryn Hill is one of those exceptions. A little after 9PM, she took the stage with Killing Me Softly in a version of the song that came from years of studying her step-father (loose term) Bob Marley and his Rasta culture. Native to New Jersey, her energy transends into an ethnically delivered style that provides a rhythmic sense of roots and celebrated culture in songs.
Her choice of songs drew on her childhood influeced by Stevie Wonder, her years as a Fugee, her celebrated Mis-Education and Bob Marley. The Fugees cover of Marley’s No Woman No Cry was a part of the masterfully woven multi-platinum album, The Score. It was perhaps kismet that she went on to build a relationship with his son, Rohan and have an instrumental part in his continued legacy baring his grand-children. Marley’s grandsons and daughter played in the dim lit corners of the stage more or less dancing to their mother’s beat. Musicians born. They appeared as a squad of support.
Toss the rumors that Hill is angry for her life or somehow irrevocably scorned. The mother of six does not come across that way. Nurturing and in control of her band, she let them shine independently on more then one occasion. Her guitarist jammed solo as did her back up singers. Her eye-contact with her band was sharp and not overly rehearsed.
Hill entertained and reminded us all that the Mis-Education was among the smartest decisions of her life. Songs like X-Factor, Doo-Whop, Everything is Everything, now 7-years their prime sounded fresh and current. Each was a complementary version of the original compiled on an album that won five times at the 41st Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist.
“Tell me, who I have to be
To get some reciprocity
No one loves you more than me
And no one ever will”
Work she does. Lauryn Hill is waging a comeback from a prison sentence that could have been avoided had she paid her back-taxes in a manner that showed the judge she took her penalty seriously. Returning to court with just a slim percentage paid, she was asked to serve out her remaining sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury. She served three-months. At that hearing, she is quoted to have indentified herself as a child of former slaves, ...”who has a system imposed on them”.
What ever her relationship is with our government is, it seemed not to have impact on this paritcular preformance. In a poodle-like skirt and expensive high-heel snow-booties, she appeared to enjoy working the inner core of the capital system, generating revenue from a live show just five months since her prison release. Her live appearances are limited in geography during her probation.
Lauryn Hill lives an open book which only adds freedom to her performance. Search google and her life story ebbs and flows like any other great achiever in history. There are moments of extreme success in High School, the Fugees, success as a independent artist along side her lowest moments that include her willingness to be lead in council by a religious zealot critics say orchestrated a cult, to her failed philathropy The Refugee Project to the highly disfunctional sexual relationship she had for years with bandmate Wyclef.
Perhaps in the past Hill has shown an entitlement to walk away from the public and its demands. She has changed since then, humbled in a way that the old and the wise carry when they realize the secret to life is happiness. She is also a preformer. The audience is her blood, she seemed to feed off of it and transend.
As she closed and on more than one occasion she thanked the audience. It is as-if to say she loves the people that have brought her much success. Afterall, it has been a success so grand it allowed her to identfy with roots beyond New Jersey and gave her the courage or furstrated humor to say to a judge first and foremost despite ambition and privilege, she is the daughter of slaves that will not pay taxes.
Her energy was magnetic. So instead, I thank you Lauryn Hill for sticking around and showing that reinvention is possible everyday when you live from truth. ##ONE LOVE