lauren hill 88.
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Public performances by Lauryn Hill are rare, but Ms. Hill, as she now prefers to be called, is coming to Israel for one show as part of a summer concert tour that includes stops in Brazil, Norway and Italy.
An international megastar for her participation in two of hip-hop's most influential albums, she's not touring to promote a new project. Her fame and fortune come overwhelmingly from The Fugees' second album, 1996's The Score. Along with Prakazrel "Pras" Michel and Wyclef Jean, Hill's voice carried stunning original works and covers, most notably Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly with His Song" but also "Ready or Not" and Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry." However, as part of a trio, in particular one that was so dominated by Jean, Hill ached to demonstrate her own genius. The result was her solo debut, 1998's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill that featured, among other gems, "To Zion," dedicated to her first-born son of the same name; "Everything is Everything" and a cover of "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You."
Hill went on to earn 10 Grammy nominations with wins for Best New Artist, Best R&B Song and Best R&B album, to name a few, and six weeks at the top of the (other) Billboard's R&B chart.
Between Miseducation and her 2002 release, MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, Hill went through a tremendous personal self-evaluation that included her political, social and religious identities as well building her own family - she has four children with partner Rohan Marley (seventh child of reggae legend Bob Marley). Much of this is apparent on the MTV album, recorded live and released as a two-disc set, with Hill offering insights into herself not just by way of her music but also as she talks between songs. At one point she says, "Fantasy is what people want, but reality is what they need," adding "I've just retired from the fantasy part."
In December 2003, Hill, who was developing a reputation as a woman who spoke her mind and wasn't bound to the whims and demands of the public or her handlers, appeared at a Christmas benefit concert at the Vatican. Before performing, she condemned the Church for "corruption, exploitation and abuses," referring to the myriad molestation cases and stories of cover-ups. She encouraged the crowd "not to seek blessings from man but from God." The head of the Italian Bishops Conference walked out in protest, and she was condemned as "pathologically miserable" by the Catholic League.
In 2004, against all odds and surprising all those present, Hill joined Michel and Jean on stage at the huge block party extravaganza organized by comedian Dave Chappelle and held in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. The show was released in theaters about two years later as Dave Chappelle's Block Party, with the Fugees reunion as the event's emotional climax. At one point it was possible to see tears welling in Jean's eyes as Hill crooned "Killing Me Softly," with the audience looking as if witnessing a miracle.
Hill emceed and performed at the Take Back TV concert that launched Al Gore's Current TV in late 2005. Most recently, she contributed to the soundtrack for the animated movie Surf's Up, with the song "Lose Myself." It is rumored that Hill has already completed her second studio album but that her label is unwilling to release it due to a fear that it's not as accessible as Miseducation. Regardless, Hill has long ago secured a position as a musical genius. Artists still sing her praises and offer her their gratitude, as evidenced by Talib Kweli's song "Ms. Hill," released in 2005, and her constant appearances on Common's thank you's on his album liner notes.
Ms. Hill is scheduled to appear at Raanana's amphitheater at 8 p.m. on Monday. Tickets are priced at NIS 289 and can be purchased at leaan.co.il or by calling (03) 524-7373.
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