It is not often that Lauryn Hill appears live on stage and it is more rare to see her on television. She will appear on an episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on May 12th, 2011. Jimmy Fallon is a big fan of theme shows. Most famously he airs a series called Yatch Rock. Between Jimmy Fallon and ?uestlove the Late night show has nabbed some pretty obscure performances-Michael McDonald, Tom Rundgren, and Tom Tom Club. This week is Marley Week featuring notable artists performing standout Bob Marley tunes.
In addition to Lauryn Hill: Ziggy Marley, Chris Cornell, Jennifer Hudson, Jakob Dylan, Lenny Kravitz, and Keith Richards.
This begs the issue about Lauryn Hill. Many have called her washed up and some have written her off as psychotic. Generally I tend to avoid voicing extremely opinionated posts. I am about to do so now.
Lauryn Hill is one of the most prolific artists of the late 20th Century. Her work with the Fugees set the bar for female emcees. Then she created one complete work that has lasted in the minds of her fans to this day. In 2004 she released a compilation of unfinished records that to the untrained ear might seem like babel. Oft times people ignore or are ignorant of the fact that Mystery of Iniquity from that compilation would go on to become the lead off single, All Falls Down from Kanye West’s debut album.
The rhetoric has been that she is washed up and incapable of delivering a solid performance. I personally resent that. Lauryn is an artist by nature and a performer by necessity. The industry never dictates to an artist. Lauryn Hill has successfully dodged the industry’s gravity and has remained true to herself and to her art. If nothing else her thirteen year absence from releasing a studio album is evidence of her independence. Not to mention the fact that she has gone thirteen years and remained a headliner.
In June of 2010 NPR conducted an interview that exposed how lucid and capable Lauryn is.
UPDATE. Her performance was erratic and unpolished. She appeared to be nervous as she sang Chances Are and loosened up as she sang Could You Be Loved. It sounded like Lauryn isn’t used to being on stage. Her best work has always been done in the studio. In fact it seemed as if she was all to cognizant of the fact that people were watching her. With that said, she sang with extreme emotion and conviction. Amidst all that she appeared to be experiencing she didn’t over compensate, sing out of her range, or allow herself to succumb to mindless improvisation. I believe she delivered a solid performance. See for yourself what Ms. Hill is capable of as she performs two songs by the late Bob Marley: