“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. Looking forward to seeing Steel Magnolias? Click here to see photos from the upcoming movie.