The Entertainment Of
By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine
Dec. 1, 2012 — The incomparable soul singer/rapper Ms. Lauryn Hill played, according to her, her first show “in the round,” on Nov. 28 at Phoenix’s Celebrity Theater and showed the sold out house why she has eight Grammys to her credit.
The opening act, which was just Hill’s DJ spinning old soul and funk records, went on obnoxiously long, but once he finished, Hill made up for it in a big way.
She opened with a remix of The Fugee’s hit cover song “Killing Me Softly,” off their Grammy award winning album The Score which showcased Hill's unparalleled vocal range.
Then she followed that up with “Everything Is Everything,” off her solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever made.
Hill continued the barrage of songs from her critically and commercially successful solo album with “Forgive Me Father,” “Lost Ones,” and ”Ex-Factor,” before breaking out a new one.
Following “Ex-Factor,” Hill asked the capacity crowd of 2,650 people to really pay attention to the lyrics of the next song.
That song was “Black Rage,” the tour’s title track, which pays homage to the Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune “My Favorite Things.”
Hill passionately performed the song, and once she was done asked the crowd, “Did you hear the lyrics?”
Then she proceeded to perform the song once more, but the second time as free verse poem instead of a composed song.
The result was a strong and proud black woman baring her soul for an intimate crowd that came out on a work night (Wednesday) to hear one of the greatest singers/songwriters of a generation.
Is it myth or illusion
Forcing you back into purposed confusion
Black human trafficking
Or blood transfusion
Black rage is founded on these kinds of things
Victims of violence
Both psyche and body
Life out of context IS living ungodly
Greed falsely called wealth
Black rage is founded on denying of self
Black human packages
Tied and subsistence
Having to justify your very existence
Try if you must
But you can’t have my soul
Black rage is founded on ungodly control
So when the dog bites
And the beatings
And I’m feeling so sad
I simply remember all these kinds of things
And then I don’t feel so bad,” said Hill in the second verse of her beautiful poem.
Following “Black Rage,” Hill went back to the Fugee’s catalogue with their gritty hit “How Many Mics,” then, “Fu-Gee-La” off The Score before exiting the stage for the planned encore.
Hill re-emerged on stage still playing Fugee’s hits with the classic “Ready or Not,” followed by the original rendition of “Killing Me Softly.”
Then Hill damn near tore the roof off with rousing renditions of Bob Marley’s “Turn the Lights Down Low,” and “Could You Be Loved.”
Those songs having particular meaning to Hill because Bob Marley is the grandfather — through one of his sons, Rohan Marley — of five of Lauryn Hill’s six children.
Following the homage to her children’s grandfather, Hill played “Round and Round We Go,” by Teairra Mari, which she claimed her and the band did not practice, but were inspired by The Celebrity Theater’s round rotating stage, before closing the show with megahit “Doo Wop (That Thing),” off of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Ms. Hill certainly made the best of her ‘miseducation’ in Phoenix.
Wayne Schutsky is a freelance writer living in Phoenix. Follow him @TheManofLetters.
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