The summer of 2000, on July 13th, a young woman from North Philadelphia named Jill Scott released her debut album Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds Vol. 1 The world quickly discovered the answer: a skillful spoken word artist who could also saaang!! The album showed that — like her peers D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, Maxwell, and other hometown heroes Musiq Soulchild and Bilal — Jill Scott was a second generation of soul singers who would be classified as “neo-soul.”
With the production from other Philly greats liken DJ Jeff, Dre & Vidal, Carvin Haggins, and James Poyser, Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds Vol. 1 showed the world that Scott was a sweet, raw and wise woman with a skill at displaying vulnerability through spoken word and harmonies. 23 years later, five albums in, touring all of the world as well as becoming a Grammy-winning artist, Jill Scott begins to remind the country and Europe about who she is with an anniversary tour, and the best place to give that reminder was yesterday in her neck of the woods in North Philly at The Met.
Whether they were from North Philly, Uptown, South Philly, Southwest Philly, West Philly, from the county or over the bridge in New Jersey, fans from all over the Philadelphia region came to celebrate an album that made them fall in love with Jill Scott. The show started off with Philly legend Diamond Kutz on the turntables, blazing the crowd with classic hip hop and R&B tunes that made fans arriving to Broad and Girard feel like they in Power 99’s on-air studio. The first performance of the night was Camden’s own bass player Adam Blackstone, who had North Philly vibing out to jazz and classic soul music. With the assistance of his band and Roc Nation singer Dixon, The Met felt like a jam session at downtown at Time bar or in South Philly for Mixed Bag. The melodies from the instruments and vocals were so smooth you would’ve thought it was 2000 and Tony Brown announced soulful classics such “Lovely Day,” “Sir Duke,” “Yearning For Your Love” and “What You Won’t Do,” on WJJZ. During his performance, Blackstone expressed how blessed he was to open for Jill Scott, considering his music career started out as her music director in 2005.
After Adam Blackstone’s dope performance, DJ Diamond Kutz went back to playing songs that had the audience cutting up, showing out and having a good time. Later on the lights went off, musicians and background singers got in their positions and instantly the lights came on, they all started rocking out to and the crowd got up excitement as Queen Jilly from North Philly walked on stage and immediately got funky…and the crowd started to lose their minds. As she thanked fans for coming, she made it known that she was going to be playing the entirety of Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1, from “Jilltro” to “Show Me.” The audience let their excitement be known and heard as they prepard take it back to summer 2000 and fall in love with Jill all over again.
Throughout the whole show, the audience was reminded of how ridiculously talented Jill’s voice is. She can provide a funky soulful grit, jazzy rifts and a range that sounds like it was passed down from Marian Anderson. She was so raw — which she probably comes from growing up in a gritty city like Philly. Jill Scott reminded The Met that they came to see live music, no track being played or autotune in her microphone. The only source of entertainment for the night would be from talented musicians and all natural voices, which the crowd had no problem with all.
The Met enjoyed seeing one of their favorite songbirds perform classics like “Gettin in the Way,” with visuals of the neighborhood Scott grew up in. After she started to jam to “A Long Walk,” the band rocked out as two interpretative dancers took the stage while “He Loves Me” began to play. The crowd began to sing the words as soon as they recognized the melody, so much that they sang the first half of the classic love tune before Jill could. The images of diamonds were being displayed behind Jill, giving the feeling of a woman feeling like a precious and valuable like a rare gem, all due to the feeling of love.
It got collard green funky once Jill and the band played “It’s Love,” to the point where Thursday night on Broad and Girard started to also feel like Sunday dinner. However once that was done and “The Way” dropped, the audience got up from their seats and started to sing like it was 10 a.m. morning service. It was safe to say the crowd was taken to church singing every word of the timeless love hymn. Philly is known for being the city of elite rappers, and during “Watching Me” Jill showed her skills as an elite wordsmith, using her lyrics to paint the picture of anxious feeling that is caused by 24 hour surveillance.
By the end of the show the crowd was satisfied with the reminder of who Jill Scott is. Ironically while she celebrated the 23rd anniversary of the release of her debut album Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds Vol. 1 on the north side of the city, west Philly was being entertained at World Cafe Live for Voices of Philly Soul Ladies Edition. The event had artist like Carla Gamble, Queen Jo, Ciara Chantelle and Black Canvas who probably were impacted by Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds Vol. 1 in some way, and like a young Jill Scott, have made their name at open mics showing their soul throughout art. It’s beautiful to see how Philly’s own Jill Scott’s music has impacted not only her city but the world.