L auryn Hill granted a rare interview to NPR’s Zoe Chance as part of the station’s “50 Great Voices” series following her performance at Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, CA. The singer/rapper/actress, known for her work with the Fugees and Grammy-winning solo album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” has been largely off the scene since 1999 and some have wondered if the artist had suffered a nervous breakdown.
She broke her extended silence to get real on her reasons for pushing the music industry aside: “There were a number of different reasons,” Lauryn tells NPR when asked why she left music after securing Grammys and numerous accolades for “The Miseducation…” “But partly, the support system that I needed was not necessarily in place. There were things about myself, personal-growth things, that I had to go through in order to feel like it was worth it. In fact, as musicians and artists, it’s important we have an environment — and I guess when I say environment, I really mean the music industry, that really nurtures these gifts. Oftentimes, the machine can overlook the need to take care of the people who produce the sounds that have a lot to do with the health and well-being of society, or at least some aspect of society. And it’s important that people be given the time that they need to go through, to grow, so that the consciousness level of the general public is properly affected. Oftentimes, I think people are forced to make decisions prematurely. And then that sound radiates.”
If you have been holding out hope for Lauryn Hill’s return, she might be close to granting your wish. Lauryn was less forthcoming about her coming back to the music industry but admits that she is sampling with new music and possibly expanding her sound beyond singing atop hip hop beats…”I’m trying to open up my range and really sing more,” she says. “With The Fugees initially, and even with Miseducation, it was very hip-hop — always a singing over beats. I don’t think people have really heard me sing out. So if I do record again, perhaps it will have an expanded context. Where people can hear a bit more.”