“I wanted to remind everybody that growing up is a process. It takes time, it takes lessons and it takes fending for yourself.” – Jill Scott
During a recent visit to Detroit, I caught up with 3x Grammy award winning singer/songwriter, actress and Philly-native, Jill Scott. It turns out, she’s a work in progress just like our very own city of Detroit. We discuss her latest album Woman, how she doesn’t compromise for the industry, using her curves to her advantage and more.
Tell me about your latest project Woman…how was that creative process?
JS: It’s a slow burn. It all came pretty slowly, I knew I wanted to reflect where I am in my life. I know there are people who have gone on this journey or are going on this journey. I wanted to talk about claiming one’s self and making choices. There’s a difference between something that appears good and fun…and they are but grown women have to make hard decisions. You don’t just become an adult or a woman because your body says so, you know, it’s more than that.
How has your music evolved? Has your writing process changed?
JS: I think my first album took me about 25 years to write whether I knew it or not. Since then, I’ve had 2, 3, 4 years in between. What has remained true is that I have to make sure I have time in between to live…or I’d have nothing to talk about. I’d be talking about the tour bus and sleeping in different hotels every night. *laughs* and I don’t think that would touch anybody. So I go and investigate.
I’ve been surrounding myself with great writers…people that I enjoy their voice, their writing voice. That’s been different for me because I normally don’t write with anyone. But I’ve enjoyed it.
For any songwriters that may want to know, have you enjoyed that process better?
JS: I don’t think it has to be compared. I just want the good work. Whether it’s me or a group of people, I really don’t care as long as it touches somebody or will make them laugh or is insightful, whatever. This music is meant to remind people to not go numb.
Some artists face challenges while creating, do you ever face challenges with music production? Is it hard for you to convey your vision to your band or producers?
JS: No…nope. I don’t really have that problem because I surround myself with people who understand my language. I speak in colors, flavors and I give them pictures and scenarios. I’m around people who get me so I don’t have to struggle with that.
How do you manage to not compromise yourself in today’s industry?
JS: Part of it is, I’m spoiled. I know me and if I’m going against the grain of who I am, then I start feeling funny. Then that funny feeling starts feeling bad and I don’t like it…I don’t like it. It’s super important to be able to look myself in the mirror. My mother knows who I am, my child knows who I am…I mean, for what he needs to know because I’m grown and he is not. And definitely my creator knows EVERYTHING about who I am so I don’t see the need to try and be anyone else. These are the things that make me happy; acting, singing, writing, mentoring young women…well, I hate to call it mentoring, more like a “keep it real session” rather than a “this is what you have to do” with a bunch of pretenses. I can’t sleep if I’m going in the wrong direction. People might say, “Well I don’t like that Jill Scott” and that’s okay. You don’t have to like me all the time. It’s alright.
Do you ever use your beauty and your curves to your advantage?
JS: Well, flowers do it. You know what I’m saying. The peacock does it. I don’t really see the problem with embracing yourself as a woman. I don’t care for giving it all away if what you’re trying to attract is the opposite sex or the same sex or whatever because all you’ll get is just sex. But yeah, I definitely think we can use what we have to get what we want. Just remember who you actually are. That’s the biggest problem I think or maybe not necessarily a problem but sometimes we get lost in our exteriors and forget who we are at the end of the day. That’s what counts the most. Your body is your body. It’s fine, go ahead and be beautiful every day. Go ahead! But never forget who you are. If your insides are ugly, it doesn’t matter how much make-up you wear or how fly your outfit is, none of that makes a difference if your insides are ugly.
Ms. Jill Scott goes on to talk about how her grandmother called her ugly once around the age of 16 and admits she needed an attitude adjustment. She’s now grateful that she had someone to keep her in line and thinks everyone needs that. Detroit is no stranger to being called ugly in every possible way but it’s going to pay off and one day we’ll be grateful too. Here’s hoping.
You can keep up with the iconic and gorgeous Jill Scott on Twitter @missjillscott.