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Jill Scott performing in Hamburg, Germany. Image: Wikimedia Commons

5 moments that made Jill Scott an icon

Mimi Nightingale

The neo-soul superstar transcends the world of R&B as a multi-talented actress, poet and published writer. Jill Scott represents the voice of contemporary black women, creating music, writing poetry and starring in roles that celebrate their shared experience.

Miss Scott is the first artist to be announced for Vivid LIVE this year, the Sydney Opera House’s contemporary music takeover as part of Vivid Sydney (from May 22 – June 13).

She joins the canon of living soul legends that have made the Opera House their stage: Ms. Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monáe, Mary J. Blige, and D’Angelo.

Here are the moments that made Jill Scott such an iconic artist.

She started as a spoken word poet

Jill Scott’s poetry roots are ever-present in her lyrics; her calling long before music. Scott performed exclusively at poetry readings in her home state of Philadelphia until she was discovered by The Roots’ Questlove. He invited her to join the band in the studio and became her mentor.

She later revealed that she lied to Questlove about knowing how to write songs; at that point, she had never written a song in her life. That white lie sparked her dazzling career, where poetry was always at the heart of her music.

Jill later penned ‘The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours’, a compilation of defiant and vulnerable poems that instantly became a New York Times bestseller.


Jill Scott reading from her poetry The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours for Bernard's Book Shelf

She wrote the smash hit ‘You Got Me’, made famous by Erykah Badu

Not long after the fateful encounter with Questlove, she teamed up with his band The Roots to write the hook on their hit, ‘You Got Me’ with Erykah Badu. The rest is platinum record-selling history.

She was the original voice for self-love

Before Lizzo’s celebration of body positivity, Jill Scott was exhorting her fans, in particular her Black female followers, to embrace their beauty and “live your life like it’s golden”. The iconic 2004 hit ‘Golden’ is a mantra to live your life freely and to celebrate your beauty on your own terms, paving the way for artists like Lizzo and many more after her.

She performed at the White House

Jill Scott was among a group of artists chosen by former POTUS Barack Obama to perform a poetry reading at the White House in 2011. Alongside Common, Aimee Mann and more, Miss Scott recited poems on a variety of topics including youth education, imploring students to write: “Ah children, please write. Paste your thoughts on our thoughts for a while.” Jill also recited through spoken word her 2011 track ‘Womanifesto’, a powerful statement embracing her womanhood, individuality and culture.  

She’s a successful actress

Jill Scott has built a successful acting career in film and TV, starring in films such as the James Brown biopic, Get on Up and the HBO/BBC miniseries The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, an adaptation of the book series about an all-female detective agency in Botswana.

Miss Scott most recently used her musical prowess to celebrate the black female hair journey in the latest season of the hit show Blackish, performing a song she wrote on the beauty and humanity of the black hair story.

Jill Scott is the first artist to be announced for Vivid LIVE this year.

Tickets go on sale Friday 21 February, 9am AEDT (pre-sale), and Monday 24 February, 9am AEDT (general public).

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