Lauryn Hill (Fugees)

American singer Lauryn Hill was born on May 26, 1975, in East Orange, New Jersey. Her Baptist family moved to New York and Newark for short periods until settling in South Orange, New Jersey. She had a middle-class upbringing, knowing both many white Jewish families and many black ones.Future actor Zach Braff lived in the neighborhood, and she attended his Bar Mitzvah. She grew up in a musically oriented family: her mother played piano, and Her father sang in local nightclubs and at weddings. While growing up, Hill frequently listened to Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, and Gladys Knight; In middle school, Lauryn Hill performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” before a basketball game. In 1988, Hill appeared as an Amateur Night contestant on It’s Showtime at the Apollo. She sang her own version of the Smokey Robinson track “Who’s Lovin’ You?”. Hill attended Columbia High School, where she was a member of the track team, a cheerleader and classmate of Zach Braff. She also took violin lessons, went to dance class, and founded the school’s gospel choir.

Academically, she received primarily ‘A’ grades and While a freshman in high school, through mutual friends, Prakazrel “Pras” Michel approached Hill about a music group he was creating. Hill and Pras began under the name Tranzlator Crew, Another female vocalist was replaced by Michel’s cousin, multi-instrumentalist Wyclef Jean. The group began performing in local showcases and high school talent shows. Hill was initially only a singer, but then learned to rap too; instead of modeling herself on female rappers like Salt-n-Pepa and MC Lyte, she preferred male rappers like Ice Cube and developed her flow from listening to them. Hill also took acting lessons in Manhattan and began her acting career in 1991, appearing with Jean in Club XII, MC Lyte’s Off-Broadway hip-hop rendering of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Hill appeared on the soap opera As the World Turns in a recurring role as troubled teenager Kira Johnson and subsequently co-starred alongside Whoopi Goldberg in the 1993 release Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, playing Rita Louise Watson, an inner-city Catholic school teenager with a surly, rebellious attitude and performed the songs “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” (a duet with Tanya Blount) and “Joyful, Joyful”.Hill also appeared in Steven Soderbergh’s 1993 motion picture King of the Hill, in a minor but pivotal role as a 1930s gum-popping elevator operator. Hill graduated from Columbia High School in 1993.

Pras, Hill and Jean renamed their group the Fugees, a derivative of the word “refugee”, (derogatory term for Haitian Americans) Hill began a romantic relationship with Jean.The Fugees became known for their genre blending, particularly of reggae, rock and soul,on their debut album, Blunted on Reality, released in 1994. With Hill rapping on “Some Seek Stardom”. Within the group, she was frequently referred to by the nickname “L. Boogie”. Hill’s image and artistry, as well as her full, rich, raspy alto voice, placed her at the forefront of the band. The Fugees’ second album, The Score won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, and was later included on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time And included the Singles “Fu-Gee-La”,”Ready or Not”, “No Woman, No Cry”and “Killing Me Softly” Which won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. On the album, Hill combined African-American music and Caribbean music influences with socially conscious lyrics.

At 21 years old, the now-famous Hill was still living at home with her parents. She had been enrolled at Columbia University during this period, and considered majoring in history as she became a sophomore but left after about a year.In 1996, Hill responded to a false rumor on The Howard Stern Show that she had made a racist comment on MTV, saying “How can I possibly be a racist? My music is universal music. And I believe in God. If I believe in God, then I have to love all of God’s creations. There can be no segregation.” In 1996, Hill founded the Refugee Project, a non-profit outreach organization that sought to transform the attitudes and behavior of at-risk urban youth.Part of this was Camp Hill, which offered stays in the Catskill Mountains for such youngsters; another was production of an annual Halloween haunted house in East Orange. Hill also raised money for Haitian refugees, supported clean water well-building projects in Kenya and Uganda, and staged a rap concert in Harlem to promote voter registration. A 1997 benefit event for the Refugee Project introduced a Board of Trustees for the organization that included Sean Combs, Mariah Carey, Busta Rhymes, Spike Lee, and others as members.

In 1997, the Fugees split to work on solo projects, which Jean later blamed on his tumultuous relationship with Hill and the fact he married his wife Claudinette while still involved with Hill. in 1996 Hill met Rohan Marley, a son of the late reggae legend Bob Marley and a former University of Miami football player and Hill subsequently began a relationship with him, while still also involved with Jean. Hill became pregnant, and in August 1997, Marley and Hill’s first child, Zion David, was born.The couple lived in Hill’s childhood house in South Orange after she bought her parents a new house down the street. Hill had a cameo appearance in the 1997 film Hav Plenty. In 1998, Hill took up another small but important role in the film Restaurant.

In 1997 Hill recorded her solo record The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, The title was inspired by the book The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson and The Education of Sonny Carson, a film and autobiographical novel featuring contributions from D’Angelo, Carlos Santana, Mary J. Blige and John Legend. Wyclef Jean initially did not support Hill recording a solo album,Several songs on the album concerned her frustration with the Fugees; such asI Used to Love Him” which dealt with the breakdown of the relationship between Hill and Wyclef Jean and “To Zion” which spoke about her decision to have her first baby. Hill then collaborated with a group of musicians known as New Ark, consisting of Vada Nobles, Rasheem Pugh, Tejumold Newton, and Johari Newton. She also wanted to be appreciated as an auteur as much as Jean had within the Fugees and also saw a feminist cause: “But step out and try and control things and there are doubts. This is a very sexist industry. They’ll never throw the ‘genius’ title to a sister.”

The album was Released In 1998 and blended R&B, doo-wop, pop, hip-hop, and reggae genres And contained the singles, “Lost Ones” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”. Hill, along with Blige, Missy Elliott, Meshell Ndegeocello, Erykah Badu, and others, had found a feminist voice with the neo soul genre. The album included the singles “Lost Ones”, “Doo Wop (That Thing)”,”Ex-Factor”, “Everything Is Everything” and “To Zion”. In November 1998, Marley and Hill’s second child, Selah Louise, was born. In 1999 Hill became the first woman to be nominated in ten categories in a single year. In addition to Miseducation she was nominated for her rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” for the 1997 film Conspiracy Theory and wrote and produced “A Rose Is Still a Rose”, which became a late-in-career hit for Aretha Franklin. Hill also broke another record by becoming the first woman to win five times in one night, including awards for Album of the Year, Best R&B Album, Best R&B Song, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, and Best New Artist. Hill also received four awards at the 30th Annual NAACP Image Awards and In May 1999, she became the youngest woman ever named to Ebony magazine’s 100+ Most Influential Black Americans list and  named her as one of “10 For Tomorrow” in “Ebony 2000: Special Millennium Issue”. she made People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People list. In June 1999, she received an Essence Award.

In 2000, Hill was one of many artists and producers to share the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for Santana’s 1999 multi-million selling Supernatural, which she had written, produced, and rapped on the track “Do You Like the Way” it also featured the singing of CeeLo Green and the signature guitar of Carlos Santana). She was also nominated for Best R&B Song for “All That I Can Say”, which she had written and produced for Mary J. Blige. and “dueted” with Bob Marley on “Turn Your Lights Down Low” for the 1999 remix tribute album Chant Down Babylon additionally appeared in the 1999 film The Best Man and later received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.

In 1998, New Ark filed a fifty-page lawsuit against Hill, her management, also her record label, claiming that Hill “failed to properly credit them for the work” on Miseducation. The musicians claimed to be the primary songwriters on two tracks, and major contributors on several others. Hill responded that New Ark had been appropriately credited and now were seeking to take advantage of her success. New Ark requested partial writing credits on most of the tracks on the album as well as monetary reimbursement. The Lawsuit was eventually settled out of court in February 2001, with Hill paying New Ark a reported $5 million. Hill began writing a screenplay about the life of Bob Marley, in which she planned to act as his wife Rita. She also began producing a romantic comedy about soul food and accepted a starring role in the film adaptation of Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved but later dropped out of both projects due to pregnancy. She also reportedly turned down roles in Charlie’s Angels (the part that went to Lucy Liu), The Bourne Identity, The Mexican, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.

During 2000, the pressures of fame began to overwhelm Hill And she dropped out of the public eye. She fired her management team and began attending Bible study classes five days a week; she also stopped doing interviews, watching television and listening to music. She started associating with a “spiritual advisor” named Brother Anthony. In 2001, while pregnant with her third child, Hill Performed an MTV Unplugged special. An album of the concert, titled MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, was released in 2002 featuring her singing and playing an acoustic guitar. The song”Mystery of Iniquity” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Rap Solo Performance and used as an interpolation by hip-hop producer/songwriter Kanye West for his single “All Falls Down”, as sung by Syleena Johnson. In 2001,Marley and Hill’s third child, Joshua Omaru, was born and their fourth, John Nesta was born in 2002

While Hill sometimes had spoken of Marley as her husband, they never married, and along the way she was informed that Marley had been previously married at a young age and had never divorced. So in 2003 she moved out into her own place in Miami. By 2002, Hill had shut down her non-profit Refugee Project. Then In 2003, during a performance in Vatican City, Hill caused controversy when she spoke of the “corruption, exploitation, and abuses” in reference to the molestation of boys by Catholic priests in the United States and the cover-up of offenses by Catholic Church officials.The Catholic League subsequently called Hill “pathologically miserable” and claimed her career was “in decline. In 2004, Hill contributed a new song, “The Passion”, to The Passion of the Christ: Songs. A remix version with John Legend of his “So High” ended up receiving a Grammy Award nomination for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. Hill also began selling a pay-per-view music video of the song “Social Drugs” and began selling autographed posters and Polaroids through her website,

For the first time since 1997, the Fugees performed in September 2004 at Dave Chappelle’s Block Party in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. The concert featured Hill’s nearly a cappella rendition of “Killing Me Softly”. The event was recorded and released in 2006, The Fugees also appeared at BET Awards 2005 and  opened the show with a 12-minute set including the track, “Take It Easy”. The Fugees embarked on a European tour in  2005. Sadly Old tensions between Hill and the other members of the group soon resurfaced, and the reunion ended before an album could be recorded; Jean and Michel both blamed Hill for the split. Hill began a solo tour, to mixed reviews; often arriving late to concerts, performing unpopular reconfigurations of her songs and sporting an exaggerated appearance. In 2007 an album titled Ms. Hill, was released which featured cuts from Miseducation, various soundtracks contributions and other “unreleased” songs featuring  guest appearances from D’Angelo, Rah Digga and John Forté. Hill also released a new song, “Lose Myself”, on the soundtrack to the film Surf’s Up.

In 2008, Marley and Hill’s fifth child, Sarah, was born. The couple was not living together, although Marley considered them “spiritually together” even while listing himself as single on social media. During 2008, Hill was living with her mother and children in her hometown of South Orange, New Jersey. Hill made a rare public appearance in 2008 at a Martha Stewart book-signing in New Jersey. In 2009, Hill  was due to start a 10-day tour of European summer festivals including the Stockholm Jazz Festival, However She performed two shows for the tour and passed out on stage during the start of her second performance and left the stage. Hill did not perform at the Stockholm Jazz Festival either due to unspecified “health reasons and Shortly afterward, the rest of the tour was canceled too

In 2010, Hill performed in stops across New Zealand and Australia on the Raggamuffin Music Festival and an unofficial compilation album titled Khulami Phase was also released featuring a range of other material found on the Ms. Hill compilation. Hill appeared at the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, California. The song “Repercussions” was released on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Hill performed at Coachella Valley Music Festival in California in 2011 And  joined the Rock the Bells hip-hop festival series in the U.S. in 2010 performing The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Hill also played a set at the 6th Annual Jazz in the Gardens, in Miami Gardens, Florida, the New Orleans Jazz Fest and at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. In  2011, Hill gave birth to her sixth child, Micah, her first not with Rohan Marley and In 2012, Hill performed a new song titled “Fearless Vampire Killer” and toured with rapper Nas; her portion of the tour, titled Black Rage, is named after a song.

Sadly In June 2012, Hill was charged with three counts of tax fraud or failing to file taxes (Title 26 USC § 7202 Willful failure to collect or pay over tax) not tax evasion on $1.8 million of income earned between 2005 and 2007 alledging that she had failed to pay tax despite earning money as a musical artist, earned royalties from both her records and from films she had appeared in, and had owned and been in charge of multiple corporations. in 2012, Hill appeared in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey in Newark and pleaded guilty to the charges; her attorney said she would make restitution for the back taxes she owed. By 2013, Hill had paid back only $50,000 of the $554,000 she owed immediately; Hill also faced possible eviction from her rented home in South Orange as well as a civil lawsuit from the town for running a business out of a home without a zoning permit. In 2013, Hill released the single, “Neurotic Society (Compulsory Mix)” stating that she was “required to release it immediately, by virtue of the impending legal deadline.” The song received some criticism for lyrics that appeared to tie societal decay to certain LGBT social movements. Sadly though this was not the end of her problems and In 2013, Hill was sentenced by Judge Arleo to serve three months in prison for failing to file taxes/tax fraud and three months house arrest afterwards as part of a year of supervised probation. She had faced a possible sentence of as long as 36 months, and the sentence given took into account her lack ofa prior criminal record and her six minor-aged children. Hill paid back the $970,000 in back taxes and penalties she owed. Hill reported to the minimum-security Federal Correctional Institution, Danbury In 2013, to begin serving her sentence. Hill was released on October 4, 2013, a few days early for good behavior, and began her home confinement and probationary periods and rleased a song “Consumerism” that she had written while incarcerated.

In 2014, Hill narrated Concerning Violence, an award-winning Swedish documentary on the African liberation struggles of the 1960s and 1970s and also appearedat Voodoo Fest And in 2015, Hill canceled her scheduled concert outside Tel Aviv in Israel following a social media campaign from activists promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.Hill contributed her voice to the soundtrack for What Happened, Miss Simone?, a 2015 documentary about the life of American singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone, recording six songs. In 2016, Hill hosted and headlined the inaugural Diaspora Calling! festival at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn to showcase the efforts of musicians and artists from around the African diaspora. She arrived late again for a gig atChastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta and subsequently faced a large backlash from her fans on Twitter,


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