This winter, a small string of East Coast tour dates cropped up on the music scene’s radar, and they belong to none other than Lauryn Hill. The ex-Fugees star hasn’t released a record 2002’s Unplugged 2.0. Her only solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, won multiple Grammys and was a total smash when it debuted in 1998, and fans have been clamoring for her to come back for some time. This year, news began to crop up of her reappearance, the most recent being a small number of shows in Boston, New York and Miami.
In July, when Hill performed at the Rock The Bells Festival, MTV News tried to chat the singer up about details of a new album, but her response only included a chuckle and that “we’re getting closer.”
She made one other appearance this summer at the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, CA, at which she graced NPR with an interview — albeit a brief one. Ms. Hill articulated much about her voice and the power of her music, but gave no concrete details about a new album. She only speculated about what direction her sound would take if she were to record something new, saying:
I’m trying to open up my range and really sing more … With The Fugees initially, and even with Miseducation, it was very hip-hop — always a singing over beats. I don’t think people have really heard me sing out. So if I do record again, perhaps it will have an expanded context. Where people can hear a bit more.”
Whether she sings out, whispers, raps or hums, people will surely be eager to hear whatever music Ms. Hill is making next. During her hiatus, she’s had five children with Rohan Marley, Bob Marley’s son, and has largely avoided a public life. When asked about why she stopped making music after the huge success of Miseducation, Hill told NPR:
There were a number of different reasons … But partly, the support system that I needed was not necessarily in place … In fact, as musicians and artists, it’s important we have an environment — and I guess when I say environment, I really mean the [music] industry, that really nurtures these gifts.
Whether or not the music industry today can nurture Ms. Hill as she believes artists should be is inconclusive — it’s certainly changed enormously since 1998 — but whatever support the industry may lack, I’m sure her fans will make up for in spades.