Jill Scott

Thesis Statement

As a singer, songwriter, poet and actress, Jill Scott wears many artistic hats in the industry. Emerging as an R&B powerhouse in the beginning of the millennium, she has created music that has integrated slow, sensual material and anthems of pride and self-empowerment that has attracted a wide range of audiences.  Jill Scott uses her platform in music and film to shine light on the experiences of black woman in America. 

Artist History

Jill Scott was born on April 4th 1972 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She attended Philadelphia High School for Girls and went to Temple University for college. At Temple University she studied education with hopes of becoming a high school English teacher. She left her secondary education at Temple however to pursue theater. She joined a local troupe and eventually landed a role in Canadian production of Rent. In Philly, she participated in reading poems at the October Gallery which caught the attention of the Roots’ Questlove. Scott was able to become a co-composer for Roots’ “You Got Me” with no experience in writing songs. Scott was influenced by artist such as Chaka Khan, Nikki Giovanni and Gil Scott-Heron. Her experiences working with roots, reciting poetry and studying theater laid a foundation for her artistic career to flourish.

Professional Career

Scott was one of several R&B singers to emerge at the end of 1990s and in the early 2000s as apart of the “Neo-soul” movement. Her early songs entitled “A Long Walk”  and “Gettin’ in the Way” epitomized the Neo-soul style. Scott made her solo debut album in July 2000 with “Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol 1. This album became one of the years most favorable reviewed albums peaking at number 17 on the Billboard 200 and reached number 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. In addition “Gettin’ in the Way” became her biggest single which set the tone for Scott’s career in high rankings on the adult R&B charts. Her next two volumes in the Words and Sounds trilogy “Beautifully Human” and “The Real Thing” were released in August of 2004 and September 2007 entered the Billboard 200 within the top five. The slow jam “Cross My Mind” gave her a Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance which became her first Grammy win. “The Real Thing” followed another Grammy award and other Grammy nominations followed suit. Scott would not release another studio album until the next decade due to her jumpstart in her acting career. In 2007, Scott made her cinematic debut in the films “Hounddog” and  “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? Part 1 and 2”. In addition to these films she starred in “Baggage Claim”, Steel Mangolias and Sins of the Mother which aired on lifetime. She also appeared on Season 4 of the hit TV show “Girlfriends” in 2004. In 2014, she starred as the second wife of James Brown in the film “Get on Up”. With her acting career taking flight, she was able to evolve as an artist which landed her multiple NAACP Awards for her roles in some of these films. 


Some of the most notable contemporaries that were living and in the music industry at the same time of Jill Scott include Floetry, Erkyah Badu, Maxwell, Ledisi, Tweet, Lauryn Hill, and Angie Stone. These artist are some of the contemporaries who favor the musical sound of, developed a similar artist flow and popularity in the R&B genre as Scott. Many of these artist arose around the 2000s era of R&B into the 2010s era of R&B. Some also have developed a Neo-soul sound similar to Scotts such as Erkyah Badu and Lauryn Hill. 


Jill Scott had many artist who had a major influence on her creativity as an artist. Some of these artist include Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita Baker, Minnie Riperton, Joni Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, Tracey Chapman, Brenda Russell, Mary J Blige, Guru, Queen Latifah and Ann Pebbles to name a few. As Scott pursued her career in the artist, these legendary actresses, actors, creatives and musicians played a pivotal role in the development of her versatile career. These influences truly mirror that artist that Jill Scott embodies based on the range of these artist, the genre of music they specialize in and their long lasting impact on black music. 


In 2001, Jill Scott won the Billboard Music Award for Female Hip/Hop Artist of the Year along with the Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album Female for Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol 1. In 2005 and 2008 Jill Scott won the Grammy award for Best Traditional R&B Performance. In 2007, Jill Scott won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance. In 2011 and 2015, Jill Scott won Billboard Music Award for Female R&B/Hip Hop Artist of the Year, the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini Series, or Dramatic Special. In 2012 and 2016, Jill Scott won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Female Artist. In 2015, Jill Scott won the Soul Train Music Lady of Soul Award. Lastly, in 2016 Jill Scott won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Album and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Song – Traditional. 

Social Involvement

Jill Scott has supported the FFWAN Charity, Save the Music Foundation, The HollyRod Foundation, and the United Negro College Fund. In addition to supporting these charities, she has been invovled in many causes such as creative arts, Parkinson’s disease, Unemployment/Career Support, Women and Education. 


Jill Scott is a versatile and inspiring African-American female poet, singer, songwriter and actress of the 21st century. Her music speaks to the soul and her sound is unique to the style of music that she creates for audiences. Many African-American women can recall a Jill Scott song that made them want to get up and live their lives for themselves, find the courage to connect with a man whom they’ve been interested in or find peace within their inner thoughts and creative minds. The Neo-soul and R&B rhythm that Jill Scott exudes brought new styles of R&B/Soul to the music industry which paved the way for more African-American women to use music as their outlet. Jill Scott brings a variety of sounds and meanings to her work. Elements of her craft are what make her into the popular R&B Artist that she is today. Scotts career paved the way for many black female artist to move up in the creative spaces of the music industry while also creating an avenue for black women to relate and connect with the messages embedded in her work. She is amongst some of the greatest R&B/Soul artist to grace this earth and has left a significant impact on the music industry for years to come. 


“Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1” is her debut album released in July 2000. 

“Jill Scott Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2” is her second studio album that was released in August 2004. This album won the Grammy for Best R&B album, Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Album – Female. 

“Woman” is the fifth studio album released in July 2015. This album won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Album. 

Film Debuts


Bruner, Raisa. “Jill Scott: Add ‘Dimensions and Dynamics’ to Black Women’s Characters.” Time, Time, 17 July 2020, time.com/5867277/jill-scott-time-100-talks-black-female-characters/. 

Chagollan, Steve. “R&B Diva Jill Scott Doesn’t Settle for Less.” Variety, Variety, 31 Aug. 2015, variety.com/2015/music/news/jill-scott-woman-album-1201580218/. 

Dowling, Marcus K. “The Musical Maturation Of ‘Who Is Jill Scott?’.” Vibe, 20 Sept. 2020, www.vibe.com/featured/who-is-jill-scott-album-anniversary. 

“Jill Scott Biography, Life, Interesting Facts.” Famous Birthdays By SunSigns.Org, 2017, www.sunsigns.org/famousbirthdays/d/profile/jill-scott/. 

Kellman, Andy. “Jill Scott: Biography & History.” AllMusic, 2020, www.allmusic.com/artist/jill-scott-mn0000845662/biography. 

Lee, Hiram. “‘Woman’: The Confessions of R&B Singer Jill Scott.” Woman: The Confessions of R&B Singer Jill Scott, World Socialist Web Site Wsws.org Published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), 9 Sept. 2015, www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/09/09/scot-s09.html. 

Zook, Kristal Brent. “Jill Scott’s Poetic Soul.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 24 Dec. 2000, www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/style/2000/12/24/jill-scotts-poetic-soul/bddcd7d2-7db3-48c1-a2d2-7689a293b427/. 

“★ Jill Scott, Author, Actress, Singer.” AALBC.com, the African American Literature Book Club, 2020, aalbc.com/authors/author.php?author_name=Jill+Scott. 

By: India Skinner

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