|I've had a reserved seat on the Jill Scott bandwagon from the very first time
I heard her CD. I'm one of the million-plus people who made her debut release
a platinum hit. (Well truthfully, Karen Taylor, Scott's publicist sent me a
free review copy.) But I've yet to find out just "Who is Jill Scott" LIVE!
I must have received at least a half dozen press releases announcing Scott's
performances in the metro area, but I've yet to experience her neo-soul vibe.
The three times that I've tried to do this the universe has denied me each
time. First her performance at Nation was postponed because Scott took sick.
Then I tried to catch her show at Constitution Hall but my press tickets
"went missing." Then this past Saturday (May 5, 2001) I was convinced I would
be able to take a long walk with the soul sister at MCI Center and maybe
spark some musical conversation. But I and all her fans, who were lined up
around the block demanding a refund, were denied because Scott was
hospitalized in her hometown, Philadelphia, with a lung infection.
Unfortunately Scott's health is taking the brunt of her success. And Scott
has been busy. Her cancelled MCI appearance was to be the first of a series
of U.S. dates Scott was slated to do with rock legend Sting. This comes on
the heel of Scott's recently completed extensive tour of the U.S. and Europe
as well as her many appearances at all the awards shows and specials like
"VH1's Divas Live: The One & Only Aretha Franklin."
While Scott has been hospitalized for a few days she is expected to recover
fully. And when she does she still has several outstanding commitments. There
is work on her sophomore album as well as scheduled performances like the
Verizon Soul Beach Music Festival in Miami later this month and the Essence
Music Festival independence weekend. I just might have to jet south to
"cover" one of these events in order to finally see her perform. But with the
kind of luck I've been having, I might do best just to keep wearing her CD
One positive sidebar to the MCI concert was Sting's outstanding performance.
The music of the former Police front man brought me back to my coming of age
in Toronto, Canada in the 1980s. Yes, Canada is home to a very large and
thriving black community, eh, that runs deeper than the yearly Caribana
festivities. But you wouldn't know it if you listened to the radio or watched
television. And true, except for college/community radio stations, many of us
had to depend on getting a clear signal from the Buffalo, NY radio station,
WBLK, to truly indulge in any of the black music genre. That is until the
CRTC (Canada's equivalent to the FCC) finally granted Milestone Communication
license to create an urban music format after more than 10 years of
applications. Check them out at www.flow935.com.
Anyway, one consequence of my Canadian upbringing was a heavy dose of pop,
rock, new wave and house music. So my record collection also includes these
"favorites" from the 80s: Wham, The Thompson Twins, Depeche Mode, John Cougar
Mellancamp, Simple Minds and of course, The Police. So it was no surprise
that I, along with the large audience at MCI Center, that seemed to have
stepped out of a gap commercial, could sing along with many of Sting's hits.
And as I listened critically to his music, I couldn't help but notice the
heavy influence of black music forms throughout -- whether it was jazz,
salsa, reggae or blues elements. So while I really missed being able to
commune with my girl Jill, I did get my rock on with Sting.