Lauryn Hill was born in South Orange, New Jersey. Hill was the second of two children born to high school English teacher Valerie Hill and computer programmer Mal Hill. As a child, Hill incessantly listened to her parents' Motown 1960s soul records. Music was a central part of the Hill home. Mal Hill sang at weddings, Valerie played the piano, and Lauryn's older brother Melaney played the saxophone, guitar, drums, harmonica, violin, and piano.
Hill began her singing career at a young age. In 1988 13-year old Hill appeared as an Amateur Night contestant on It's Showtime at the Apollo. Hill sang her own version of Smokey Robinson's song "Who's Lovin' You?". A nervous Hill sung with the microphone far away from her mouth and was heckled at first; but she persisted and finished her song to a standing applause, though she did not win.
Hill was childhood friends with actor Zach Braff and they both graduated from Columbia High School in 1993, where Hill was an active student, cheerleader, and performer. Braff mentions inviting Hill to his bar Mitzvah in 1988 .
Hill began her acting career at a young age. Hill appeared on the soap opera, As The World Turns as Kira Johnson. In December 1993, she starred in "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit" as Rita Louise Watson. In the film, she performed the songs " His Eye Is on the Sparrow" (a duet with Tanya Blount) and " Joyful, Joyful" . It was in this role, as Rita, that she first came to national prominence, with Roger Ebert calling her "the girl with the big joyful voice".
Her other acting work includes the play Club XII with MC Lyte, and the motion pictures King of the Hill (as Arletta the Elevator Operator), Hav Plenty (1997), and Restaurant (1998). She appeared on the soundtrack to Conspiracy Theory in 1996 with "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", and on Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood in 2002 with the track "Selah".
However, in the summer of 2005, Trace magazine interviewed Lauryn Hill and Rohan Marley; Marley said none of this was true and that many lies had been written about them .
Together they have five children: son Zion David Hill-Marley; daughter Selah Louise Marley; son Joshua Marley; and son John Marley. The couple's fifth child is a baby girl who was reported to be born in early 2008; her name hasn't been released.
Hill has written a song about her eldest son, titled "To Zion", which can be found on her first solo effort, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. A song titled "Selah", is featured on the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood soundtrack .
The Fugees' first album, Blunted on Reality, featured the songs "Boof Baf", "Nappy Heads" and "Vocab". "Nappy Heads" peaked at #49 on the U.S. Hot 100. The album sold over 2 million copies worldwide. Blunted on Reality was followed by The Score, a multi-platinum, Grammy-winning album that established two of the three Fugees as international rap stars. Singles from The Score include "Ready or Not", "Fu-Gee-La", "No Woman, No Cry", and "Killing Me Softly" (written by Lori Lieberman and made famous by Roberta Flack).
In 1998, Hill released the critically and commercially successful The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which sold over 423,000 copies in its first week and topped the Billboard R&B Album chart for 6 weeks.
The first single off the album was the rap song "Lost Ones" (US #27), released in Spring 1998. The second was "Doo Wop (That Thing)"; it debuted at number one in the United States in the summer of 1998; Other singles were "Ex-factor" (US #21) and "Everything Is Everything" (US #35), and the ballad "To Zion" dedicated to her then 1yr old son.
At the 1999 Grammy Awards, Hill was nominated ten times and won five awards: Album of the Year (beating Madonna's critically acclaimed album Ray of Light), Best R&B Album, Best R&B Song, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best New Artist. Lauryn Hill set a new record in the industry as she became the first woman to win 5 grammys in one night.
Most of the songs featured only an acoustic guitar and her voice, somewhat raspy from rehearsal on the day before the recording. Hill used the set as an opportunity to give information on why she had been absent from the public for a period of time and what she had found while away. Critical reception was mixed, but the album received platinum status.
Despite Hill's intentional departure from the media and celebrity, she continued to create commercially and critically successful music. Her song "Mystery of Iniquity" was nominated for a Grammy without promotion or radio airplay and used as an interpolation by hip-hop mega-producer Kanye West for his single "All Falls Down" (eventually recorded by Syleena Johnson).
In the months and years after the release of her debut album, Hill became increasingly disaffected with the music industry. In the February 2006 issue of Essence magazine, Hill described this time in her life:
For two or three years I was away from all social interaction. It was a very introspective time because I had to confront my fears and master every demonic thought about inferiority, about insecurity or the fear of being black, young and gifted in this western culture. It took a considerable amount of courage, faith and risk to gain the confidence to be myself. I had to deal with folks who weren’t happy about that. I was a young woman with an evolved mind who was not afraid of her beauty or her sexuality. For some people that’s uncomfortable. They didn’t understand how female and strong work together. Or young and wise. Or Black and divine'.''
People need to understand that the Lauryn Hill they were exposed to in the beginning was all that was allowed in that arena at that time. There was much more strength, spirit and passion, desire, curiosity, ambition and opinion that was not allowed in a small space designed for consumer mass appeal and dictated by very limited standards. I had to step away when I realized that for the sake of the machine, I was being way too compromised. I felt uncomfortable about having to smile in someone’s face when I really didn’t like them or even know them well enough to like them.
I had to fight for an identity that doesn’t fit in one of their boxes. I’m a whole woman. And when I can’t be whole, I have a problem. By the end I was like, I’ve got to get out of here.
The Fugees also appeared at BET's 2005 Music Awards on June 28, 2005, where they opened the show with a 12-minute set.
One track, "Take It Easy", was leaked online and therefore was released as an internet single on September 27, 2005. It peaked at #40 on the Billboard R&B Chart. The song was not without critics, as The Village Voice wrote,
The Fugees embarked on a European tour from November 30, 2005 through December 20, 2005. The group played in Austria, Slovakia, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Italy, France, England, Ireland and Switzerland. On February 6, 2006, the Fugees did a special "Reunion Concert" in Hollywood, that was offered as a live webcast on the Verizon Wireless website. The Fugees were featured in numerous Verizon Wireless VCast advertisements in magazines and on TV around that same time. A new song titled "Foxy" was made available on VCast and a third new song was leaked, unofficially titled "Wannabe", which uses the same hook as the Michael Jackson song "I Wanna Be Where You Are".
Pras confirmed in an interview that the Fugees reunion had stopped moving forward.
According to reports, Hill is planning a "major comeback" and is hard at work writing new material. Rohan Marley says: "She writes music in the bathroom, on toilet paper, on the wall. She writes it in the mirror if the mirror smokes up. She writes constantly. This woman does not sleep"..
There was silence for several minutes from the audience as many could not speak English. There were cries of "Enough" and "Shame" from those who understood while others whistled and clapped before she picked up her guitar and performed two songs, entitled "Damnable Heresies" and "Social Drugs", both about social pressure. After her performance her comments were translated for Cardinal Camillo Ruini, head of the Italian Bishops Conference, who was sitting in the front row, and he walked out in protest. Among those in attendance were Edmund Cardinal Szoka, American-born President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City, and President of the Governorate of Vatican City. The segment was cut from the television broadcast by the Church, and a full transcript of Hill's statement has yet to be released.
The global response Hill received was varied. Monsignor Rino Fisichella, one of the organizers of the traditional concert, said: "It was in poor taste and very bad mannered. It showed a complete lack of respect for her invitation and for the place where she had been invited to perform", while the Catholic League responded by calling Hill "pathologically miserable".
While returning to New York, Hill's only response to the press about the controversy was: "What I said was the truth. Is telling the truth bad manners? What I asked was the church to repent for what has happened." Hill's actions earned her EW's dubious "Disrespecter of the Week" title.
|Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group||R&B||Killing Me Softly||1996||Won|
|Best Rap Album||Rap||The Score||1996||Won|
|Album of the Year||Top||The Score||1996||Nominated|
|Best Female Pop Vocal Performance||Pop||Can't Take My Eyes Off You||1998||Nominated|
|Best Female Rap Solo Performance||Rap||Lost Ones||1998||Nominated|
|Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||R&B||Doo Wop (That Thing)||1998||Won|
|Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group||R&B||Nothing Even Matters feat. D'Angelo||1998||Nominated|
|Best R&B Song (award goes to songwriter)||R&B||A Rose Is Still A Rose - by Aretha Franklin||1998||Nominated|
|Best R&B Song (award goes to songwriter)||R&B||Doo Wop (That Thing)||1998||Won|
|Best R&B Album||R&B||The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill||1998||Won|
|Best Female Rap Solo Performance||Rap||Lost Ones||1998||Nominated|
|Best New Artist||Top||The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill||1998||Won|
|Album of the Year||Top||The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill||1998||Won|
|Album of the Year||Top||Supernatural (Santana album)||1999||Won|
|Best Music Video (Short Form)||General||Everything Is Everything||2000||Nominated|
|Best R&B Song (award goes to songwriter)||R&B||All That I Can Say - Mary J. Blige||2000||Nominated|
|Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals||Pop||Turn Your Lights Down Low, with Bob Marley from The Best Man soundtrack||2001||Nominated|
|Best Female Rap Solo Performance||Rap||Mystery Of Iniquity||2003||Nominated|
|Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group||R&B||So High, with John Legend||2005||Nominated|
Other awards nominated and won
As of 2008, Lauryn Hill has won over 30 awards, including eight Grammy Awards and three World best-selling Music Awards. In 1998 she was the first female solo artist awarded five Grammys in one year. Following her lead, Alicia Keys (2002), Norah Jones (2003), Beyoncé Knowles (2004), and Amy Winehouse (2008) also won five in one year.
1999 Award wins
1999 award nominations
2000 Award Wins
2000 Award nominations
|The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill|
|MTV Unplugged No. 2.0|
|U.S.||U.S. R&B||U.S. Rap||UK|
|1998||"Can't Take My Eyes Off You"||351||45||—||—||The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill|
|"Deep In My Heart"²||—||—||—||—|
|"Doo Wop (That Thing)"||1||2||1||3|
|"Everything Is Everything"||35||14||—||19|
| "Nothing Even Matters"|
|U.S.||U.S. R&B||U.S. Rap||UK|
|1996|| "If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)"|
(Nas featuring Lauryn Hill)
|53||15||17||12||It Was Written|
|1997||"The Sweetest Thing"||—||7||—||18||Love Jones (soundtrack)|
| "All My Time"|
(Paid & Live featuring Lauryn Hill)
|—||—||—||57||All My Time|
| "Turn Your Lights Down Low"|
(with Bob Marley)
|86||49||—||15||Chant Down Babylon|
|2002||"Mr. Intentional"||—||—||—||—||MTV Unplugged No. 2.0|
|2005|| "So High"|
(John Legend featuring Lauryn Hill)
|2006|| "Say" |
(Method Man featuring Lauryn Hill)
|2007||"Lose Myself"||—||—||—||—||Surf's Up Soundtrack|