Saturday, May 25, 2013

May 25: Singer and actress Lauryn Hill, formerly with The Fugees, is 38-years-old today.

Lauryn Noelle Hill is a musician, producer and actress. She first established her reputation as a member of The Fugees then in 1998, launched her solo career with the release of the commercially successful and critically acclaimed album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The recording earned Hill five Grammy Awards, including the coveted Album of the Year and Best New Artist.
Lauryn Hill was born in East Orange, New Jersey. As a child, Hill listened to her parents' Motown 1960s soul records. Music was a central part of the Hill home. Her father, Mal Hill sang at weddings, and her mother ,Valerie, played the piano. Her older brother Malaney played the saxophone, guitar, drums, harmonica, and piano.

In 1988, Hill appeared as an Amateur Night contestant on It's Showtime at the Apollo. She sang Smokey Robinson's "Who's Lovin' You?," and was at first booed but eventually won over the audience.

Hill graduated from Maplewood, New Jersey's Columbia High School in 1993, where she was an active student, cheerleader, and performer. Hill enrolled at Columbia University in 1993 and attended for nearly a full year before dropping out to pursue an entertainment career.

The Refugee Camp ("Fugees") formed after Prakazrel "Pras" Michel approached Hill in high school about joining a music group he was creating. Soon after, she met Michel's cousin and fellow Haïtian, Wyclef Jean.

At some point, Hill was nicknamed "L Boogie,” as she began to convert her poetic writing into rap verses. The Fugees' first album, Blunted on Reality, peaked at #49 on the U.S. Hot 100. The album sold over two million copies worldwide.

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(Press album cover for direct link to the entire Amazon Website):

Blunted on Reality was followed by The Score, a multi-platinum, Grammy-winning album that established two of the three Fugees as international rap stars.

Singles from The Score include "Ready or Not,” "Fu-Gee-La” and "No Woman, No Cry"-made famous by Bob Marley. Hill's singing gained worldwide acclaim with The Fugees' remake of "Killing Me Softly with His Song,” accompanied by a sample from Rotary Connection's "Memory Band.”

Hill and Wyclef Jean dated through the majority of The Fugees early tenure. In 1994, though, Jean married his wife, Marie Claudinette and in the summer of 1996, Hill met Rohan Marley, a son of reggae legend Bob Marley, who himself was already married. Despite his marriage, Hill and Marley started a family. They have five children together.

In 1996, Hill began production on a solo album that would  become The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The title was inspired by The Mis-Education of the Negro book by Carter G. Woodson and The Education of Sonny Carson, a film and autobiographical novel.

The album featured contributions from D'Angelo, Carlos Santana, Mary J. Blige and John Legend. Songs for the album were largely written in an attic studio in South Orange, New Jersey and recorded at Chung King Studios in Jamaica.

Several songs on the album concerned her frustrations with The Fugees; "I Used to Love Him" dealt with the break-down of the relationship between Hill and Wyclef Jean. "To Zion" spoke about her decision to have her first baby, even though many at the time encouraged her to abort the pregnancy so as to not interfere with her blossoming career.

Hill began her acting career at a young age, appearing on the soap opera As The World Turns as Kira Johnson. In 1993, she co-starred in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit as Rita Louise Watson, in which she performed the songs "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" (a duet with Tanya Blount) and "Joyful, Joyful.” It was in this role that she first came to national prominence, with Roger Ebert calling her "the girl with the big joyful voice.”

Her other acting work includes the play Club XII with MC Lyte, and the motion pictures King of the Hill, Hav Plenty, and Restaurant. After her rise to musical stardom, she reportedly turned down roles in Charlie's Angels, The Bourne Identity, The Mexican, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. She appeared on the soundtrack to Conspiracy Theory in 1996 with "Can't Take My Eyes Off You,” and on Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood in 2002 with the track "Selah.”

Following the success of her debut album, Hill largely dropped out of public view, in part due to her displeasure with fame and the music industry. After a four-year hiatus, she released MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, a live recording of "deeply personal songs" performed mostly solo with an acoustic guitar. In more recent years, Lauryn Hill has recorded songs for soundtracks and mixtapes, as well as performing live at several music festivals.

On February 29, 2012, Lauryn Hill performed a new song titled "Fearless Vampire Killer", during a sold out performance at the Warner Theater in Washington, DC.


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