Ms. Lauryn Hill’s performance at Amos Southend Saturday night left me speechless. I was in the presence of sheer brilliance for over an hour and when the music stopped I was mesmerized by what I had just witnessed. You could tell by the way she was vibing Hill was feeling every bit of what she was doing. It was enjoyable for me as a fan to see her enjoying herself as she performed some of her biggest hits and even some Fugees’ hits. Personally, I thought she sound and looked amazing. I told my husband and close friend as we were driving away I wanted to send her an e-mail or leave her a post-it note simply thanking her and telling her how amazing she was just in case Hill herself doubted her performance.
The majority of my planning period last week was spent reading articles about her and Googling images of her. And because I am a fan it took me a minute to even wrap my mind around the fact I would actually be seeing her perform live and in person. I suppose like many others I thought Lauryn Hill was done performing. So imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when I received an e-mail from Amos Southend announcing her show in Charlotte on the evening prior to tickets going on sale. I was online at 10am on the dot the next morning. I purchased three tickets; one for myself, my husband, and a close friend. I even texted several of my family and friends sharing the news with them because to me it was a big deal Ms. Lauryn Hill herself would be performing in Charlotte in two weeks. I would not in a million years have missed Hill’s performance Saturday night.
I would be lying if I didn’t admit I was a tiny bite size uncertain of what to expect from Ms. Hill the night concert. Recent reviews of her performances haven’t been so great and Hill has been ridiculed for her lack of regard for her fans by starting her shows hours past the scheduled start time. I arrived around 8:30, remained in my car until 11pm, and only waited 40 minutes for Ms. Hill to take the stage; no complaints. Reviews from other concert goers Saturday express how upset some fans were because of Hill’s tardiness, which I think was a miscommunication on the venues end and Hill is not to blame for. Others were left disappointed because she didn’t perform songs exactly as recorded on her album. As a response to those who feel this way I’d like to point out even a song such as Amazing Grace or The Star Spangled Banner over a different arrangement doesn’t make the lyrics or their meaning any less powerful. I recognized every song she performed by their lyrics. If you know a song you know a song. However, most of the arrangements to her classic hits off of her album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” had been altered indeed. I honestly don’t get the fuss about the arrangement changes. It’s the lyrics that matter and not the beat; it’s the words themselves that make the music. In my opinion Hill is a poet who chooses to add music to her poetry. Now please note I LOVE music.
I love artist from Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Beyonce, The Jonas Brothers (I have a five year old) ,Black Keys, N.E.R.D., Kanye West, Billie Holiday, Cold Play, Muddy Waters, Outkast, Cee-lo, to Amy Winehouse, and many many many others.
I feel it is important for you to know this so you understand how easy it was for me to vibe to the new arrangement changes. I love artist from several different genres of music, thus allowing my openness to Hill’s rearranged songs. If you were expecting strictly the reggae and soul Hill gives on Miseducation you would not have enjoyed the majority of her show Saturday night. I’d also like to add that if you want to hear songs as recorded on an album and only that my suggestion is to never attend a concert, especially one of an artist as creative and unique as Lauryn Hill. It is in your best interest to stick to listening to the CD.
I, for one, did not stop moving the entire time. It even seemed as I looked around at people who were not feeling Hill’s performance, concert goers would have rather Hill have no band and just a DJ playing instrumentals while she sang over a track (boring). I’m sorry but that just isn’t what music is about folks. I appreciate the fact she left it all on the stage and was willing to share herself the way she did. I find her extremely courageous to allow herself to be so vulnerable.
If you are a ‘fan’ and have kept up with Ms. Hill through the years she has been out of the spotlight, you know part of the reason she chose to step away from her career at a time when anything she touched turned to gold is because she felt she had little control over the music she was putting out. In her Essence interview back in 2001 Hill expressed how she felt she had very little power over the type of music she was producing and the demands of her label kept her from being true to herself and creating the type of music she wanted. She herself admits she had allowed the fame to get to her and needed the break to remind herself of life’s true meaning. This is when she chose to focus on being Lauryn Hill the wife and mother and not Lauryn Hill the superstar. When it comes to her label controlling her I can only imagine how frustrating that must have been as an artist. It is frustrating in any profession when you really care about what you do. I’m an English teacher and it is extremely disheartening for me to be unable to share brilliantly written works of literature with my students because it’s not part of the state standard course of study. So imagine how it must feel to a singer/songwriter, who puts so much of themselves in the music they produce to ironically have their voice taken away from them.
Complaints about her voice sounding hoarse (it has changed and she says this on her MTV Unplugged 2.0 album), ticket prices, and punctuality are a bit annoying for me. It’s Lauryn Hill!!! Lauryn Hill is a living legend; her talent is undeniable. She is honest and real and that alone is worth paying $60 for in a day when a song entitled “Short Bus Shawty” is popular. We often forget the celebrities we are quick to celebrate when they do what we want and quick to stone when they don’t do what we expect of them are human beings. They are real people who have good days and bad days, who can have their feelings hurt or become disappointed, and who have to help their children study for spelling test or attend teacher/parent conferences. I believe it’s Hill’s passion for music that pushed her to perform again. In an article I read online last week of an interview with Rohan Marley, Hill’s husband, he states she writes all the time and has material for several albums. So, the music lives inside of her and she has never stopped creating it. For anyone who bothered to pay attention Saturday night it was displayed in her every movement. I personally cried a little when she came out on stage. I admire her as a woman and an artist that much. Those who were not diggin’ her new arrangements prove change is and always will be difficult for us as human beings to accept. I can only give an account of my personal experience at Hill’s concert in Charlotte Saturday night. I would have driven to Asheville Sunday night to see her perform again if I knew I could have gotten tickets for my husband and me. Simply put Lauryn Hill’s performance is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever known.
by guest blogger C-Rose