“This is the simplest form of myself. I look in the mirror and it’s like, ‘Hey, there you go. What’s up, girl?’ For me, hair is an accoutrement. Hair is jewelry. It’s an accessory. Tomorrow I may want a wig down to my butt and I’m gonna rock it, and the next day I may want a big Afro and I’m gonna rock that too…”—Jill Scott
Jill Scott has much to be excited about these days. After a tumultuous few years that saw the end of her first marriage, a broken engagement to her son’s father, an acrimonious split from her longtime record label Hidden Beach and the abrupt end of her HBO series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, life is looking up for the singer. She’s a mother and a maverick; she’s starring in a TV movie — Lifetime’s all-Black revamp of the 1980’s classic Steel Magnolias — and she’s still packing in crowds on tour. Here, the soulful songstress—rocking a close-cropped natural for the October issue cover—talks to ESSENCE about “the lights coming on” after turning 40, finding her stride… and what’s next on the horizon.