Culture / Newsy

For Mature Ears Only

Jill Scott Delivers a Powerful Black Lives Matter Message — and a real Woman’s Love Story — in Houston

BY Marisa Richard // 07.28.16

Until last night, my only experience of a Jill Scott concert was my friends and I singing chorus-like to our favorite tracks from her 2000 debut album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1. Well, Scott proved that to be child’s play as she shut down the Revention Music Center at Bayou Place, enthralling a packed house Wednesday night on stop five of her 25-city summer tour.

In a nod to the headliner’s spoken-word roots, Scott was preceded by poet Georgia Me, who kept the crowd laughing and relaxed as we anticipated Miss Jilly from Philly.

Before long, the main act appeared on the dimly lit stage, stood in the only spotlight, and belted out the first note of “He Loves Me.” The crowd cheered loudly, then grew quiet. “Heyyyy, Houston! Tonight we came to bring you love and music,” Scott told the audience. That they did, taking concertgoers on a 90-minute — and unapologetic and authentic — mature woman’s love story. She is very fluid performer, and gave all, using her eyes, hands and powerhouse vocals to great effect.

She wore no shoes, and looked comfortable on the stage, perhaps even a touch vulnerable. She gave an animated, honest performance, one that provoked “sing it, girl” and “talk to us, Jill” from the crowd. As the night went on, the singer bounced into and out of her five albums, performing, among many other tunes, “Golden”, “A Long Walk,” “Making you Wait,” and “Hate on me.”

One of the evening’s most passionate moments was her performance of “Can’t Wait,” a track on her her most recent LP, 2015’s Woman. The soulful slow jam is a message to a man she can’t wait to get home to from a strong woman who holds the weight of the world on her shoulders. She shifted gears and went MTV Unplugged when she stopped the music and sang the breakdown over and over again, eventually in unison with the crowd. The togetherness climaxed in a three-minute acoustic exchange with her fans.

The night progressed, and near the end of the show Scott let her seven-man band serenade the crowd with their instrumental solos; she stepped back and vibed to the music, leaving us with a soulful rendition of the gospel classic “This Little Light of Mine” as a slideshow of individuals epitomizing love and peace, (Michelle Obama, Bette Midler, Jesse William, Bernie Sanders),  as well as footage from Black Lives Matter events, appeared on a giant screen behind her.

The images faded away, the lights came up, and though her voice was still audible, Scott had disappeared from the stage.

An appreciative crowd greeted Jill Scott last night in Houston.
An appreciative crowd greeted Jill Scott last night in Houston. (Photo by Marisa Richard)

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