Jill Scott

Jill Scott Biography

Singer (1972–)
Jill Scott is a Grammy Award-winning recording artist who's also a poet and actress, known for roles in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and Steel Magnolias.


Born on April 4, 1972, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jill Scott performed in a Canadian production of Rent before releasing her debut album, Who Is Jill Scott?. She has since released several more albums and earned three Grammy Awards as of 2013 while also working as an actress, starring in projects like Why Did I Get Married?, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and Steel Magnolias.

Background and Early Career

Jill Scott was born on April 4, 1972, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and raised as an only child by her mother and grandmother. She discovered the poetry of Nikki Giovanni in the 8th grade and was majorly inspired by her work, with Scott later enjoying writers like Octavia Butler and J. California Cooper as well. She also developed a passion for music and singing, taking to certain jazz and soul greats and learning the craft largely on her own.

Scott worked as a poet and attended Temple University with the intention of becoming a teacher, but left school to take up a drama apprenticeship. She landed a part in a Canadian touring production of Rent, but, finding the repetition of a staged musical creatively stifling, left the show in 1999 to focus on her own projects.

Album Debut

Scott went on to work with Questlove of the hip-hop group The Roots, co-writing the song "You Got Me," which would earn a rap performance Grammy. She also worked with producer and songwriter Jeff Townes (who collaborated with Will Smith as the duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince) to create tunes that would comprise her first album.

In 2000, Scott released her full-length debut on Hidden Beach Records, Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds, Vol. 1, which featured songs like "A Long Walk" and "Gettin' in the Way." The album earned great word of mouth and made its way to the Top 20 of the Billboard albums chart, with the singer/songwriter earning three Grammy nominations.

'Beautifully Human'

She released Experience: Jill Scott 826+ in 2001, a two disc set that featured both concert recordings and new, unreleased tracks, including a duet with Common.

In 2004, Scott released her next studio album, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds, Vol. 2. with the lead single "Golden." Her next album, the relationship and sexuality oriented The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3, came forth in 2007, the same year in which she and her husband Lyzel Williams divorced.

While Scott was positioned as a leader of the neo-soul and "Soulquarian" movement of the late '90s and early '00s, she has pointed out that she utilizes a variety of genres in her work, ranging from opera to swing to '70s R&B. Scott is known for a rich, limber and sometimes playful vocal style that often interweaves with live instrumentation.

By 2007, Scott had earned three Grammy Awards, including one for her rendition of "God Bless the Child" with George Benson and Al Jarreau.

Book and Film Work

Scott has found major success in a variety of art forms. In 2005 she released her book of poetry The Moments, the Minutes, the Hours with St. Martin's Press. She then made her film debut portraying blues great Big Mama Thornton in Hounddog, starring Dakota Fanning, which was showcased at Cannes in 2007. That same year saw the U.S. release of Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married, in which Scott was among an ensemble cast that included Janet Jackson and Perry himself. She reprised her role for the film's 2010 sequel as well.

'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency'

Scott's next big acting project involved being the lead in the 2009 HBO series adaptation of the hit novel The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, with Anthony Minghella handling directorial duties for the show's premiere. Scott portrayed Precious Ramotswe, a caring yet forceful visionary who starts her own investigation business in Botswana. The same year, Scott also became a mom, giving birth to a son.

After splitting with Hidden Beach, Scott signed with Warner Bros. and in the summer of 2011 released The Light of the Sun, which reached No. 1 on Billboard's albums charts and featured the Top 10 R&B hit, "So in Love," with vocalist Anthony Hamilton. The album also contained the track "Womanifesto," a version of which Scott performed at the White House's Evening of Poetry.

'Steel Magnolias'

Scott returned to TV in 2012 in the Lifetime remake of famed play and film Steel Magnolias, co-starring Queen Latifah, Phylicia Rashad and Alfre Woodard, among others. For 2013, Scott signed on to take a role as a doctor in the CBS cop-drama pilot Second Sight and will be featured in the film Baggage Claim, scheduled for the fall.

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