I have been anticipating this moment since the days of Sister Act 2, so when Howard Theatre announced a surprise show on December 25th 2015, there was absolutely no question in mind whether I'd attend or not. I was definitely going to be there.
You see... Lauryn Hill was someone who I felt a connection with, from the first time that I watched Sister Act 2 in the 90's I was moved by the drive and determination of her character and her melodic voice. I was standing in the Howard Theatre promptly at 8:00PM, show time was 10:00 PM; I was standing near the stage rocking to beats played by Lauryn's dj, DJ Rampage. At 9:55PM I could tell that Lauryn would not be walking on the stage at 10:00 PM but I was okay with that. For me, it wasn't about the money spent on a ticket, nor my time spent waiting but it was about the moment, the experience and the vibes.
DJ Rampage, hyped the crowd up for some time, playing a mixture reggae, dancehall and hip-hop. He played "Ready or Not" if my memory serves me right and the crowd was hyped! A young woman who pushed her way in front of me earlier that night asked the person beside her "Who sang that song?" So I guess it is safe to say that there were a mixture of fans and curious ones in the audience.
As I stood there I reflected on how Lauryn Hill, the artist, the woman, and the intellect had impacted my life. I listened to her famous motivational speech to a group of students time and time again. I'd watch Sister Act 2 back to back if the opportunity presented itself and I spend most of my time listening to music, more specifically singing along with Lauryn Hill. Lauryn Hill has moved me over the years, her strength as a woman and artist and her knowledge of self.
Lauryn's backup dancers walked out and stood in their rightful places, and on the opposite side of the stage three young men each holding a wind instrument took their places. Then it was Lauryn, she walked out and the anxious crowd went wild, everyone was screaming. Tears escaped a place from deep within because I was grateful for everything this petite woman who sat in front of a microphone holding a guitar had done for me.
It's rare to find an extremely talented artist, singing live these days. I was so proud of her performance and I rate it as the best live performance that I have witnessed in my lifetime.
Lauryn commanded her live band, she knew what she wanted to hear and when she wanted to hear it. The show was not a rehearsed effort, it was beautiful and organic. I can understand this sense of perfection, I've seen it many times when my father played the guitar along with other musicians. I felt her frustration when her ear piece kept falling out and she apologized time and time again however we could not tell that Ms. Hill could not hear the music. She was perfect, her voice was powerful and the musicians were energetic. We felt the energy and spent the night rocking out to some good music. Near the closing of her performance Lauryn sang "Zion" a song that she dedicated to her son and tears streamed down my face, I have sung that song time and time again and although word for word it does not apply to my life experiences, I have sung it to my son while in the womb and after his birth. It is one of those songs that exude an energy of love; the love a mother has for her child.
Lauryn performed a number of songs from the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, The Fugees and she also honored Nina Simone by covering her songs "Feeling Good" and "Ne Me Quitte Pas."