Monday, June 28, 2010

Lauryn Hill Explains Why She Stopped Making Records (and what a new album might sound like)

After spending a weekend "chasing" Lauryn Hill at the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, Calif. (June 13), NPR's Zoe Chace finally got the interview.

For the past 10 years or so, after releasing The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill -- the iconic album that branded her a musical genius -- Lauryn had a mental breakdown and essentially disappeared. The 35-year-old rapper/singer/actress rarely performed in the States and she hardly ever granted interviews, but, as she tells Zoe, she might be working on a comeback.

"I think it's just time. I'm starting to get excited again. Believe it or not, I think what people are attracted to about me, if anything, is my passion," she says. "People got exposed to my passion through music and song first. I think people might realize, you know, 'We love the way she sounds, we love the music, but I think we just love how fearless she is. How boundless she is, when it comes to what she wants to do.' And I think that can be infectious."

And she answers the question everyone wants to know: After Miseducation and [2002's Uplugged, which we won't even talk about], why did she stop recording?

"There were a number of different reasons," she says. "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."

When (fingers crossed) she does put out another record, she says it will be a whole lot different.

"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."

Zoe asked if there's a certain amount of responsibility that comes along with having a voice that moves so many people in so many places around the globe.

To which Lauryn says, "I think if I was created with such power or an ability, then what's also been put in me is the blueprint for the responsibility part, as well. I have to take care of myself in order to take care of this gift, which has affected so many. I don't treat it lightly. It's important to me to be healthy and to be whole."

Listen to entire report here:


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