Sunday, July 3, 2011

111: The Self-Empowered Woman: Jill Scott

Dear Followers,

Many of us first fell in love with Jill Scott when we watched her performance as Precious Ramotswe in Anthony Minghella's HBO adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith's "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency." The seven-part series, set in Botswana, was co-funded by the BBC and HBO. Scott played a wise, gentle (and very effective) detective,

Scott was raised by her mother and grandmother in North Philadelphia (1: No Paternal Safety Net), and has told interviewers that she had a happy childhood and was "very much a loved child." She was raised as a Jehovah's Witness (3: Belief in the Unbelievable).

Essence magazine referred to Scott as a true Renaissance Woman, and there's much more to Ms. Scott than just her TV and movie roles - you've probably seen her in "Law & Order: SVU," UPN's "Girlfriends," and movies including Showtime's "Cave Dwellers," and Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married?"

Scott began her career as a "spoken word artist" before she broke in to the music industry. At a live poetry reading, Amir Thompson of The Roots invited her to join the band in the studio, and the result was co-writing credit for "You Got Me," when earned Scott her first Grammy Award. She also joined the touring company (along with Eric Benet and Will Smith) for the Broadway play"Rent." And in 2005, she won her second Grammy for "Crossed My Mind." The same year, St. Martin's Press published a volume of her poetry titled "The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours."

In 2001, Scott married her longtime boyfriend, Lyzel Williams, but the couple divorced after six years of marriage. And she had a son with her drummer, Lil' John Roberts, but they broke up when the baby was only three months old (15: Forget About Prince Charming).

Scott underwent a long legal battle with her first label after she signed a distribution deal with Warner Brothers Records (14: Selective Disassociation). Her voice has often been compared to Minnie Riperton's because she is comfortable in the sixth octave - on the song "Gimme" she hits a D6 with full vibrato, and on "Spring Summer Feeling" she hits a C7 in the background.

With $100,000 of her own money, Scott established the "Blues Babe Foundation," which helps young minority students pay for university expenses (13: More Than Meets the Eye).

In 2006, at the Essence Music Festival, Scott criticized the way black women were portrayed in rap music, and in April's edition of Essence magazine she wrote a controversial article about black men who marry Caucasian women (5: Life is Not a Popularity Contest). With her fourth studio album, "The Light of the Sun" Scott hit number one on the Billboard Album Chart for the first time. Jett, Scott's two year old son, is what she calls "my best gift...we're both super in love right now, just nuts about each other...he's pretty incredible" (16: Intensive Motherhood).

Looking forward to your comments...


  1. I had no idea about the many adversities that Jill Scott faced and triumphed over. What a wonderful enlightening post and what a great message of perseverance.

    Thank you for sharing this information- and thanks once again for your blog- you continue to educate, enlighten and give great hope to us all.

  2. I remember the tease line from an old detective story on tv: "There are 8 million stories in this big city." I think when I read Jill Scott's story that there are 3.4 Billion stories of women on this planet. Thank you, Marilyn, for showcasing this one brave soul who characterizes the women who persevere, and love, and reach back - and forward- to help their sisters along. In the coming New Age of the Goddess she is a leader and a voice.

  3. I loved the #1 Detective Agency series and was surprised that I loved Jill Scott in her role as Ma Ramotswe as much as I did the character McCall Smith created. Thanks for sharing her interesting story!
    Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Certified Personal and Executive Coach