R&B, soul, jazz, hip hop, spoken word — you name it, she's done it. Jill Scott is known as one of the few artists in contemporary music who seamlessly bridges the gaps among each of these genres. Despite her veteran status in the game — she currently has more than 15 years under her belt — she considers the release of her fifth studio album, Woman, her first moment in the sun.
"I think I've been a girl for a long time. You know, a Philly girl, a homegirl," she told BET.com. "I think I've been that for a long time and I've finally arrived here. I've been waiting to get to this place all my life. I've been excited about being a woman and being old enough and having life experiences that give me entitlement to the name."
So why does she only now consider herself worthy of the title of "woman?" She thanks her elders: "I surround myself [with] elder women [who] do continue to teach me and guide me and give me insight on the world and mothering and love and career," she said. "When they started calling me 'woman,' I was like, 'Alright, finally.'"
Now confidently boasting such a lofty title, Scott found the need for the music to reflect the current space of fulfillment that she has now arrived. This 16-track LP was thus born with tracks that resonate with the struggles and triumphs of a woman's journey. While the recording process was organic, as with her previous projects, she recalled the birth of one particular song that almost seemed like a scene from a fantasy film.
"'Jahraymecofasola' is one of my favorites because of how it came about and how simply beautiful it is," she said. "My hand and my pen [were] moving before I was and when I opened my eyes, it said 'Jahraymecofasola,' and I was like, 'Hmm.' I heard the music and I was writing and freestyling the whole thing and I was just like, 'What's another way to say, I love you?' And I closed my eyes and I waited and my pen was moving."
Her seamless explanation of the song's meaning is what made this an inexplicably unreal moment that can never be duplicated. "'Jah' is God. 'Ray' is 'king' in Spanish and a ray of light. 'Me' is 'to me.' 'Co' means 'with.' 'Fa' is the fourth note on the diatonic scale. I tend to sing right in there. 'So' means 'to such an extent.' 'La' means to exalt," she explained. "So, basically, it means God is king to me with the fourth note of the diatonic scale to such an extent that I exalt... I love when the spirit is moved. Whether I understand it or not. I said 'I'mma leave it right there because that was not me."
Though "Jahraymecofasola" is already a favorite amongst Jill Scott fans and critics alike, she has decided to hold off on releaseing it as the follow-up to her first single, "Fool's Gold." Instead, she has chosen track 13, "Back Together," as the next offering from the project.
"The next single is more than likely going to be 'Back Together,'" she revealed exclusively to BET.com. "The reason for that is it doesn't have any barriers. It's not male, it's not female, it's human and it's a lovely sentiment, whether it's your child that helps you get yourself back together or it's your mother or your friend or your partner or whomever it is. I believe that people are sent to help you and guide you along, particularly when you're at your [lowest] point, and if you have that person you're immensely blessed."
The vocal powerhouse has a lot to be thankful for as one of her most apparent blessings remains her long-standing career. With her longevity cemented in what is often considered a disposable industry, Scott credits it all to her inspirations growing up. "The longevity for me was always the goal," she said, "I look at artists like Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand and Whoopi Goldberg and Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. They're always able to be themselves and do other things like direct and act or write or produce... They're Renaissance women."
Another woman who Scott passionately spoke of during our talk was Sandra Bland, who is one of the most recent victims of police brutality. Her words on the tragedy prove to be both riveting and direct, urging African-Americans to band together in a unique way.
"I know that she's not the only one. I think that this is a reoccurring thing," she said. "It's been happening to our sons and it's been happening to our fathers and it's just outrageous. That's all... I'm just sick of this, man. Too much, too often, so close, so close! All that I've ever really wanted to say is that revolution is done in the dark. Whatever leaders, kings, people with influence want to do, it has to be done in the dark. I'm ready and I think we all are."
Powerful words. Now that Woman has officially been released, fans can expect to catch Jill Scott on tour all throughout the summer.
Aussie fans, get ready as well, as the singer is headed Down Under in October to continue her promotional trek. Aside from music, she also revealed that she is currently working on a few films with actors that she is "really excited about." Jilly from Philly just keeps working. Inspiring, indeed.
Make sure you pick up your copy of Woman in stores now, and if you haven't seen WOMAN: Jill Scott Live, take a look at the entire performance below:
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(Photo: Stephen Cohen/Getty Images)