We’re still on a high from all of the amazing experiences that came to life during our 2017 ESSENCE Festival Durban weekend in South Africa, and a true highlight of the Festival was an electrifying performance from none other than Ms. Jill Scott. ESSENCE caught up with the Philadelphia-born entertainer just before she hit the stage to wow the Durban audience with her velvet tone and authentic Neo Soul sound, and she opened up about everything from womanhood, to her legacy, to her preferred forms of therapy when she needs to wind down.
What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a woman is one of those deep incredible situations. We are connected to the role; we give birth to the life of other human beings. We nurture and cater to our loved ones, as well. We are also exceptionally powerful in business and in our minds. It’s an incredible thing, and I wouldn’t want to come back as anything else. I would always want to be a woman.
What do you think is the importance of a festival like ESSENCE?
Every time I have gone to the Essence Festival, it has been so empowering. You see so many incredible artists and amazing women, standing together supporting one another in all their glory. Every hairstyle, every color, every expression of creativity is there. You hear thoughts and people expressing ways to live that gives us options on how to live; I love that. When life gets you down, how do you get back up? I am a glutton for punishment, If I am down, I go there for a minute. I allow myself to feel how I’m feeling in those moments because that’s how the lessons come in. That’s how you learn what to do and not to do the next time. So, not for long, but I do go there.
What is your form of therapy?
I use music, dance, yoga, spending time with my child and taking walks. I enjoy the nature that surrounds me because it helps to rebalance and reconnect to what’s bigger than us.
What about one thing you never leave home without?
I never leave home without my Grandmother’s nightgown. Sometimes when I can’t rest because there are too many things going on, so the comfort of her smell and fabric gets me ready to go.
You’ve performed here before. How would you describe the feeling of performing for a South African audience?
Every time I perform in South Africa, I feel like you are taking it into your soul and you listen so intently. You pay close attention, and it’s such a privilege to perform to an audience that loves music as much as I do and pays close attention to what I do.
What else are you working on right now?
I’m doing a show called Black Lightning in Atlanta that I’m shooting in a couple of days. I’m also getting a star on the Philadelphia Walk of Fame, so my little name will be in a star. That means whenever you come to Philly, you can walk on me [laughs].
When it’s all said and done, what legacy do you want to leave behind?
Freedom. Allow yourself to be all of yourself, which means sometimes you will be vulnerable. Sometimes you will be a little insecure, other times you won’t; that’s the greatness that makes a life. Never pretend to be anything that you are not. It doesn’t suit anyone. I would definitely say freedom of one’s self is a legacy I hope to leave behind.