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Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Noel Hill is a Grammy Award-winning American singer, rapper, musician, songwriter, producer, and film actress. Early in her career, she established her reputation in the hip-hop world as the lone female member of The Fugees. On August 25, 1998 she launched her solo career with the release of the commercially successful and critically acclaimed album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, an album which helped to spur the neo-soul genre to a wider commercial platform. After a four year hiatus, she released MTV Unplugged No. 2.0; a live recording taped on July 21, 2001 at MTV Studios in Times Square. She has won eight Grammy Awards and is the mother of five children with Rohan Marley, the fourth son of reggae legend Bob Marley.

Biography

Early life

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".

Personal life

Since 1996, Hill has been a in a relationship with Rohan Marley, son of the late reggae music icon Bob Marley. Though she refers to Marley as her husband, it has not been confirmed publicly that they are legally married. According to the October 2003 Rolling Stone article by Touré, Marley never divorced his first wife Geraldine Khawly, whom the article stated he married in 1993 while a sophomore at University of Miami, Florida. With Khawly he has two children: daughter Eden Marley and son Nicolas Marley .

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 .

Humanitarianism

Hill is noted as a humanitarian, and in 1996 she received an Essence Award for work which has included the 1996 founding of the Refugee Project, an outreach organization that supports a two-week overnight camp for at-risk youth, and for supporting well-building projects in Kenya and Uganda, as well as for staging a rap concert in Harlem to promote voter registration. In 1999 Hill received three awards at the 30th Annual NAACP Image Awards. In 1999 Ebony named her one of "100+ Most Influential Black Americans". She was named with Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. and others among the "10 For Tomorrow," in the EBONY 2000: Special Millennium Issue.

Career

The Fugees

The Refugee Camp ("Fugees") formed after Prakazrel "Pras" Michel approached Hill in high school about joining a music group he was creating. Soon after, she met Pras' cousin and fellow Haïtian immigrant, Wyclef Jean. At some point, Hill was given the nickname "L Boogie," as she began to convert her poetic writing into rap verses. Hill's singing gained worldwide acclaim with the Fugees' remake of "Killing Me Softly with His Song", accompanied by a sample from Rotary Connection's "Memory Band" (also sampled in A Tribe Called Quest's "Bonita Applebum").

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).

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

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.

MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 (2002)

On July 21, 2001, Lauryn unveiled her highly-anticipated new material to a small crowd, for a taping of an MTV Unplugged special. The 2002 released MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 album exhibited a new Hill, as she focused on the lyrics and the message she was spreading rather than the musical arrangements. "Fantasy is what people want, but reality is what they need", she said during the concert. "I’ve just retired from the fantasy part."

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'.''
During this time, Hill stopped doing interviews, watching television and listening to music. She explored other methods of expressing herself, including creating and writing an extensive amount of music, poetry, screenplays, and clothing designs. Hill said:
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.
and she went on to say:
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.

Short-lived return of the Fugees (2004-2006)

The Fugees performed on September 18, 2004 at Dave Chappelle's Block Party in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City. They headlined a bill that included a star-studded cast of hip hop celebrities. The concert featured Hill's nearly a cappella rendition of "Killing Me Softly". The block party was recorded and directed by Michel Gondry and released on March 3, 2006, to movie theaters.

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,

"Turns out that a Fugees reunion wasn't really what anyone was waiting for; we just wanted Lauryn to start rapping again.

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.

Comeback (2008-present)

.

On October 6, 2005, Lauryn Hill emceed and performed two songs at the Take Back TV concert launching Al Gore's CurrentTV.

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"..

Controversies

Miseducation lawsuit

In 1998, a group of musicians collectively known as New Ark sued Hill, her management, and her record label, claiming that they either co - wrote or co - produced 13 of 14 tracks on Miseducation, despite the liner notes of the album claiming that it was "produced, written, arranged and performed by Lauryn Hill." The suit was settled out of court in February of 2001, over two years after it was filed.

Vatican statements

On December 13, 2003, Hill shocked officials at a Christmas benefit concert at the Vatican by denouncing "corruption, exploitation, and abuses", in reference to the molestation of boys by Catholic priests in the United States and the cover-up of offenses by Catholic Church officials. Hill told the crowd of 7,000:
I am sorry if I am about to offend some of you. I did not accept my invitation to celebrate with you the birth of Christ. Instead I ask you why you are not in mourning for him in this place? I want to ask you, what have you got to say about the lives you have broken? What about the families who were expecting God and instead were cheated by the Devil? Who feels sorry for them, the men, women and children damaged psychologically, emotionally and mentally by the sexual perversions and abuse carried out by the people they believed in? Holy God is a witness to the corruption of your leadership, of the exploitation and abuses which are the minimum that can be said for the clergy. There is no acceptable excuse to defend the church.
Hill called on the church leaders to "repent" and encouraged the crowd to "not seek blessings from man but from God."

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.

Awards

Grammys Career Statistics

  • Career wins: 8
  • Career nominations: 19

Category Genre Song/Album Year Result
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

American Music Award

  • Favorite Soul/R&B New Artist

Blockbuster Award

  • Favorite New Artist - Female

MTV Video Music Awards

  • Video of the Year
  • Best Female Video,
  • Best R&B Video, and
  • Best Art Direction (Gideon Ponte) - Doo Wop (That Thing)

Soul Train Lady of Soul

  • R&B/Soul Album of the Year
  • Best R&B/Soul Single, Solo (Ex-Factor)
  • Best R&B/Soul or Rap Music Video (Doo Wop (That Thing))

WB Radio Music Award

  • Artist of the Year (Rhythm/Urban)

NAACP Image Awards

  • Best Album
  • Best New Artist
  • Outstanding Female Artist
  • President's Award for the Refugee Project

Soul Train Music Awards

  • Best Female R&B/Soul Album
  • Best Music Video ("Doo Wop (That Thing)")
  • Best R&B/Soul or Rap Album
  • Sammy Davis, Jr. Entertainer of the Year Award

1999 award nominations

MTV Video Music Awards

  • Best Hip-Hop Video

Soul Train Lady of Soul

  • Best R&B/Soul Album

VH1 Fashion Awards

  • Most Fashionable Artist (Female)
  • Visionary Video Award

MTV Europe Music Awards

  • Best Female Artist
  • Best Album
  • Best R&B Artist

Soul Train Music Awards

  • Best R&B/Soul Single, Female

2000 Award Wins

American Music Award

  • Favorite Female Soul/R&B Artist
  • Favorite R&B Album

Soul Train Music Awards

  • Best R&B/Soul Single, Female (Ex-Factor)

World Music Awards

  • World's Best-Selling Female R&B Artist
  • World's Best-Selling Female Rap Artist
  • World's Best-Selling New Artist

2000 Award nominations

Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards

  • Best R&B/Soul Single - Solo (Everything Is Everything)

MTV Video Music Awards

  • Best Hip-Hop Video - Everything Is Everything
  • Best Direction (Sanji) - Everything Is Everything
  • Best Special Effects (Method) - Everything Is Everything

Discography

Solo albums

Album information
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

MTV Unplugged No. 2.0

Singles

Year Title Chart positions Album
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
1999 "Lost Ones" 271
"Ex-Factor" 21 7 4
"Everything Is Everything" 35 14 19
"To Zion" 77
"Nothing Even Matters"
(featuring D'Angelo)
105³ 25

Featured and soundtrack singles

Year Title Chart positions Album
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)
105³ 53 118 Get Lifted
2006 "Say"
(Method Man featuring Lauryn Hill)
66
2007 "Lose Myself" Surf's Up Soundtrack

Appearances/Other Tracks

See also

References

External links

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