Jill Scott

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Biography

If Aretha Franklin held the title Queen of Soul, then singer-turned-actress Jill Scott deserved to be called Queen of Neo Soul. The singer's vocal style effortlessly combined jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and spoken word, resulting in hits such as the breezy ballad "A Long Walk" (2003) and the Grammy Award-winning duet "Daydreamin'" (2007). Scott also enjoyed a successful acting career, often playing tough-skinned women with a heart of gold. She …
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Job Title

Actor, Music

Born

April 4, 1972

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If Aretha Franklin held the title Queen of Soul, then singer-turned-actress Jill Scott deserved to be called Queen of Neo Soul. The singer's vocal style effortlessly combined jazz, R&B, hip-hop, and spoken word, resulting in hits such as the breezy ballad "A Long Walk" (2003) and the Grammy Award-winning duet "Daydreamin'" (2007). Scott also enjoyed a successful acting career, often playing tough-skinned women with a heart of gold. She appeared in Tyler Perry's films such as "Why Did I Get Married?" (2007) before landing a starring role on "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" (HBO, 2008-09), about a female investigator who solves mysterious crimes in Botswana. Her touching performance on the series earned Scott rave reviews and established her career as a naturally gifted and multilayered artist.

Jill Scott was born on April 4, 1972 in Philadelphia, PA. Her mother, Joyce Scott, and her grandmother - who was nicknamed "Blue Babe" - raised the future star and influenced her love of music. Scott grew up listening to the vocal stylings of Aretha Franklin, Sarah Vaughan, and Michael Jackson, but it was her grandmother's daily routine of singing while taking a bath that inspired the youngster to become a vocalist. She graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Girls before attending Temple University in Philadelphia. After studying to become a high school English teacher, Scott realized she wanted to pursue a different career path altogether, and dropped out of the teaching profession. She spent some time working in various retail and service jobs before deciding a music career fit her perfectly.

Scott first made her mark as a performer by appearing in spoken word and poetry readings. Amir "QuestLove" Thompson of jazz/funk/hip-hop collective, The Roots, discovered the budding artist and invited her to work in the studio. The duo co-wrote the track "You Got Me" (2000), which earned The Roots and singer Erykah Badu a Grammy award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. Scott joined The Roots onstage at several tour stops, filling in for Badu's part in the song, and giving her own soulful hook that critics often compared to legendary singer Minnie Ripperton. Other artists in the hip-hop community took notice of Scott's talents and collaborated with her, including vocalist Eric Benet, rapper Common, and rapper-turned-actor Will Smith.

After a stint touring Canada with the Broadway production of the musical "Rent" (1996), Scott signed with Hidden Beach Recordings label, where she released her debut album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 in 2000, fueled by the smooth and jazzy lead track "A Long Walk." The single earned Scott a 2003 Grammy nomination for Best Female Vocal Performance. She won her first Grammy two years later for Best Urban/Alternative R&B Performance for the track "Cross My Mind." With a hit album and a handful of awards - including a 2001 Lady of Soul honor as Entertainer of the Year - on her mantle, Scott went right to work on her second album. Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2 (2004) was the perfect sequel to her debut, filled with Scott's brand of soulful, down-home sound. Her musical success, however, never deterred the artist from other creative ventures. Scott's compilation volume of poems titled The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours was released in April 2005 and received much critical praise.

Scott won her second Grammy Award for her collaboration with contemporary jazz greats George Benson and Al Jarreau on the track "God Bless The Child" (2007). Her versatility to combine musical genres - from R&B to jazz to hip-hop - was loved by music fans worldwide. Scott scored another hit with "Daydreamin'," a single from rapper Lupe Fiasco that featured Scott's angelic vocals in the chorus. The song appeared on her 2007 album Collaborations, and earned the artist another Grammy in 2008 for Best Urban/Alternative Performance. If that was not enough, Scott treated her fans with her next studio album The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3. Released in 2007, the singer's third album featured the hit singles "Hate on Me" and "My Love." Using her star power to help those who were less fortunate, Scott established the Blues Babe Foundation to help minority students residing in Philadelphia, PA; Camden, NJ; and the Delaware Valley pay for university expenses. In 2003, the Foundation donated over $60,000 to the Creative Arts School in Camden. Aside from her educational advocacy, Scott was also quite vocal against the rap community's depiction of women. In July 2006, while appearing onstage at the Essence Music Festival, she criticized hip-hop songs and videos, asking the audience to "Demand more."

Scott began acting after a filmmaker friend encouraged her to give it a try. She made her primetime TV debut in 2004 with a recurring role on "Girlfriends" (UPN, 2000-06; The CW, 2006-08). That same year, Scott acted opposite real-life couple Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick in the Showtime original movie "Cavedweller" before making a leap to the big screen in 2007 with two feature film projects, portraying the legendary vocalist Big Mama Thorton in the harrowing Southern drama "Hounddog," and playing Sheila Jackson, a woman asked to deplane because of her weight in Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married?" (2007). Due to an ever-growing résumé, it was only a matter of time before Scott found a perfect starring vehicle for her versatile talent. She was cast as literary heroine Precious Ramotswe on "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency," a miniseries that followed a charming African detective based on Alexander McCall Smith's series of novels (1998-2010). Filmed in Botswana, the series addressed issues from AIDS, domestic violence, to traditional women's roles in Africa. In 2010, Scott reprised her hilarious role of Sheila Jackson for the Perry-directed sequel, "Why Did I Get Married Too?"

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