A mature R&B vocalist who excelled most with slower, sensual material ("Slowly, Surely," "I'm Not Afraid," "My Love") and was versatile enough to pack plenty of punch with anthems of pride and self-empowerment ("Golden," "Family Reunion," "Hate on Me"), Jill Scott grew up in north Philadelphia and began her performing career reading her own poetry. She was heard by Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson, drummer in the Roots, who invited her to join the band in the studio, resulting in the co-composition "You Got Me," a 1999 Top 40 pop hit that actually featured Erykah Badu instead of Scott herself. Subsequently, she collaborated with Eric Benet, Will Smith, and Common, and broadened her performing experience by touring Canada in a production of the Broadway musical Rent.
Signed to Steve McKeever's newly formed Hidden Beach label, she released her debut album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1, in July 2000. One of the most favorably reviewed R&B albums of the year, the set peaked within the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 chart and reached number two on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Experience: Jill Scott 826+, featuring a lengthy live set on one disc and studio material (including a soaring collaboration with 4hero) on a second disc, appeared the following summer. Scott's star power soared over the next year, eventually earning her a Grammy nomination in early 2003 for Best Female Vocal Performance for "A Long Walk."
Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds, Vol. 2 and The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3, both of which debuted in the Top Five of the Billboard 200, followed in 2004 and 2007, respectively. A compilation containing several of her most notable guest appearances, titled Collaborations, was also released in 2007. The same year, Scott appeared in a pair of movies, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married? and Hounddog, which set the stage for her starring role in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, an HBO series that debuted in 2009. A switch to Warner Bros. -- which followed some legal conflict with Hidden Beach -- yielded 2011's The Light of the Sun, led by "So in Love," a collaboration with Anthony Hamilton. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. The following month, Hidden Beach released The Original Jill Scott from the Vault, Vol. 1. Within a year, the label initiated a three-volume series of remixes dubbed Crates: Remix Fundamentals. Highlight appearances on albums by Robert Glasper and Bernhoft preceded a pair of 2015 releases: the Hidden Beach-era anthology Golden Moments and fifth proper studio album Woman. The latter, supported by the Atlantic label, was her second album to debut at the top of the Billboard 200. ~ Andy Kellman & William Ruhlmann