To Zion, Love Lauryn Hill: Highlights from 1998 to 2011

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To Zion, Love Lauryn Hill:  Highlights from 1998 to 2011 | June's Journal image 4
Above, Lauryn on the Jim Fallon Show on May 12, 2011, during Fallon's 30th Anniversary Tribute of Bob Marley's death.

Last week Ms. Lauryn Hill appeared on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” for the Bob Marley Tribute (see clips).  She’s on a 17-date tour doing concerts and interviews, a definite change from her pattern of hiding from the limelight at all costs for nearly a decade now.

“To Zion”

It’s also hard to believe that Lauryn penned her Grammy Award-winning song “To Zion” 13-years-ago to her son Zion.  That’s right.  Zion is a teenager now!  Zion is a talented guitar and bass player, not surprising of course since his grandfather is the legendary Bob Marley and his mom is the well-known Grammy-winner Lauryn Hill.  This makes her song that much more meaningful today.  After all, as she states in the lyrics, many people during that season advised Lauryn to abort Zion.  She sings:

I knew his life deserved a chance
But everybody told me to be smart
Look at your career they said,
“Lauryn, baby use your head”
But instead I chose to use my heart

And while I’m still slightly in awe with some of Lauryn’s personal decisions; for example, she’s now rumored to be pregnant with her sixth child by a man who is married to someone else, this song’s beauty and endearing message stands the test of time.  Check out Lauryn’s live performance of the song “To Zion” below at the 1998 Grammy Awards, along with Carlos Santana who is featured on the song.

What Happened To Lauryn Hill?

Some say she couldn’t handle fame and lost her mind or had a nervous breakdown due to her relationship with Rohan Marley.  Hey, being any man’s “other woman” for over a decade would drive any woman crazy, rightfully so.  And she’s said publically (e.g., in her speech to youth below) that he brought a lot of  “baggage” into their relationship… much more than most people do.  I just hope Rohan isn’t purposely trying to keep Lauryn barefoot and pregnant, ya know?   She’s now rumored to be pregnant with his sixth child.  But it’s unlikely Lauryn is too upset about that.

Not only is she in love with Rohan, but she’s an integral part to continuing Bob Marley’s legacy by bearing his grandkids.

Rumors also abound that Lauryn was brainwashed by a spiritual leader she met named “Brother Anthony” who may have tried to exploit her spiritually, as Lauryn was always deeply spiritual, even early on (revealed in interviews and her moving lyrics).  She most likely connected with Brother Anthony when seeking truth and seeking God when so many disappointments and setbacks began to occur (e.g., becoming disenchanted by the music and media industry, musicians suing her after her album released, etc).  She fired her entire management team after having multiple bible studies with this man.  There’s even talk about a “secret society” ran by Satanists who own or run the music industry behind the scenes… that Lauryn fled the industry after finding this out and refusing to compromise or subcomb to their demands.

Or maybe she just wanted her freedom and privacy back.  And to focus on being a Mom.  This is actually the answer she provides in an August 2010 interview when asked about her sabbatical.  Watch it below.

Here’s how one fan put it:

“She never had mental problems.  Don’t be so brainwashed, my friend.  She just got sick of the disgusting, evil nature of the media industry.  She wasn’t about to sell her soul to devil and whore herself out like Beyonce shaking her [butt] all the time to make money, or start growing horns and performing rituals for the devil like Lady Gaga or putting Baphomet heads in all her videos like Jay-Z.  She got out, and I would have done the same, just like Dave Chapelle did, another real person.”

Lauren also said in an Essence Magazine interview,

“I had to step away when I realized that for the sake of the machine I was being way too compromised.”

Hearing some of Lauryn’s comments reminds me of Dave Chappelle who has made similar comments and “walked away” from a 50-million contract and folk assumed he had gone “crazy”  (he sets the record straight in a TIME magazine interview that you can read here).  Dave and Lauryn have actually done a few impromptu shows together during her 2011 tour this year (two already) and of course Lauryn participated in Dave Chappelle’s Block Party back in 2009.

Selah Marley: Model/Singer

Lauryn Hill's oldest daughter, Selah, an inspiring model and singer, was recently featured in Teen Vogue Magazine.

One incredibly positive thing that’s happened during Lauryn’s seclusion is the beautiful blossoming of her children.  For example, her oldest daughter, Selah Marley, is an upcoming model and singer.  She’s modeled in a few runway events for Macy’s, and she recently appeared in the March 2011 edition of Teen Vogue Magazine (click here to read the article).  Selah says, “Singing is my favorite thing to do. One day I hope to get signed to a record label.”  While on tour, Lauryn has been bringing Selah on stage, along with her other kids.  I saw a clip where she let Selah sing… watch out, Willow Smith :)
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Lauryn at Marley Tribute in 1999

Participating in tributes for her children’s grandfather, Bob Marley, like the one she did last week for the Jimmy Fallon Show, is nothing new for Ms. Lauryn Hill.  Below is a nice clip of Lauryn performing at a tribute in 1999.  Her children’s grandmother (Rohan’s mom) introduces Lauryn before she comes out and performs.  And towards the end of the song, notice how Rohan comes out dancing when she points at him and sings, “I want to give you some good loving.”  Funny.  Even Lauryn cracks up at the end of her song.  Check it out.

Lauryn On As The World Turns

As a bit of Lauryn Hill trivia, long before her Miseducation album, she appeared on As The World Turns. While still in high school in Maplewood, New Jersey, she played a recurring role on the Daytime Drama as the troubled runaway, Kira (1991).  Below is a clip.

Lauryn on The Apollo Showtime

And did you know she also appeared on Apollo Showtime when she was only 13-years-old (the same age Zion is now).  And this was in the days when audience members on the Apollo were allowed to “boo” child contestants (they don’t allow that anymore).  They “booed” Lauryn at first but she keeps going and wins them over.  Although her mother reveals in an interview that Lauryn cried after the show, and her mom gave her a pep talk saying this line of work isn’t for her if she’s gonna cry when people don’t like her.

Lauryn on Sister Act 2

And who can forget Lauryn in the movie, “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit”?  She rips “His Eye is on the Sparrow” like none other and does a great acting job to boot.  See clip below.  (The movie soundtrack has the entire song.)  My all-time favorite song from this movie is definitely JOYFUL JOYFUL which comes on in the video below after the first clip of His Eye is on the Sparrow.

Lauryn was also offered to perform in other movies: like Charlie’s Angels, The Matrix (the last two), Bourne Identity (she met with Matt Damon), The Mexican (she met with Brad Pitt), and other projects.  She turned them all down.  It’s said she began penning a screenplay of her children’s grandfather, Bob Marley, in which she was to play Bob Marley’s wife, Rita, but it’s not known if she ever finished it.

Award Acceptance Speeches

Below is a playlist of video clips (that automatically play one right after the other) of Lauryn’s acceptance speeches for various awards and honors (NAACP Image Ward, Essence President’s Award, Soul Train Award, etc).  What is interesting is that her man Rohan is seen in every clip, sitting with her as her name is announced as the winner.  And in each speech she seems goes out of her way to not only acknowledge God but to testify or preach a little. I actually love her acceptance speech for the NAACP Award. Very well said.

Lauryn Imparts Wisdom to Youth

In 2000, Lauryn spoke to a group of high school students, answering their questions.  She states she’s not a good speaker, but she’s actually very good (and credits God for answering her prayers just before speeches that makes them go so well).  Check it out.

In the above speech to youth, Lauryn references the pressure from others (presumably peers and the media) for her to release another album.  I like the illustration she gives: she feels that in-between each “masterpiece” there needs to be a time to descent from the “hill” in order to learn (no pun intended).  She excolor-boxs that true masterpieces are built from a period of learning, citing that too many hip hop artists try to stay on the hill instead of making a regular practice of ascending and descending.  She also shares about some of her upbringing and gives a little insight into her relationship with Rohan Marley, speaking of his “baggage” that he brought into their relationship.

Interviews

Here are some interviews of Lauryn, a few from 2010 and then some before her period of silence.  This is a video playlist, so it will automatically keep playing interviews (use the right side arrow to skip ahead).  Also, for a super detailed and very interesting article on Lauryn and what happened to her, click here.

Back to Zion

This blog post was originally intended to be very short and simple post about the song “To Zion.”  But it evolved into everything you see above.  For those of you who like Lauryn Hill’s music like, I hope you find the various footage I found on YouTube as interesting as I did.  I’m glad to see her re-emerging from her cocoon.  Now we’re all just waiting for her to spread her butterfly wings and fly.  Lauryn is only 36-years-old (she has a birthday coming up on May 26).   She’s still very young and full of possibilities.

To that end, I will keep her in my prayers.  I exhort you to pray for her also.

I’ll end with the lyrics to “To Zion” in their entirety:

Unsure of what the balance held
I touched my belly overwhelmed
By what I had been chosen to perform
But then an angel came one day
Told me to kneel down and pray
For unto me a man child would be born
Woe this crazy circumstance
I knew his life deserved a chance
But everybody told me to be smart
Look at your career they said,
“Lauryn, baby use your head”
But instead I chose to use my heart

Now the joy of my world is in Zion
Now the joy of my world is in Zion

How beautiful if nothing more
Than to wait at Zion’s door
I’ve never been in love like this before
Now let me pray to keep you from
The perils that will surely come
See life for you my prince has just begun
And I thank you for choosing me
To come through unto life to be
A beautiful reflection of his grace
For I know that a gift so great
Is only one God could create
And I’m reminded every time I see your face

That the joy of my world is in Zion
Now the joy of my world is in Zion
Now the joy of my world is in Zion
Now the joy of my world is in Zion

Marching, marching, marching to Zion
Marching, marching
Marching, marching, marching to Zion
Beautiful, beautiful Zion
[repeat to end of song]

7 COMMENTS

  1. Hey June. Nice read. I can relate to her song about how the joy of her life changed once she birthed her son! Didn’t know that she is in a relationship with a married man. Did I get that right? If so, sad.

    • I can relate too! It’s a very moving song, ain’t it? Her man Rohan doesn’t believe in divorce (he’s a Rastafarian). But what’s confusing about his belief system is that while it keeps him from divorcing his wife, it doesn’t keep him from starting a family/relationship with another woman outside his marriage. His dad was known for doing the same thing actually (i.e., multiple women with multiple families, and the women all knew about each other). It’s a fascinating belief system.

      For more on Rohan, read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rohan_Marley and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Marley

  2. UPDATE: It’s been confirmed that Lauryn is indeed pregnant with her sixth child, but Rohan is NOT the father, and according to Rohan’s official Twitter page, he and Lauryn are no longer together.

  3. I cannot see why everyone holds BM in high esteem as he was an adultera having a brooad of children with births overlapping. He wrote and sang songs for other lovers whereby his wife had to sing the backing vocals. What were their marriage vows – ‘not to be faithful’. Its total crap that she cannot get divorced because he’s a Rasta, BULL, Nowhere in the King James version of the Bible (the Bible that Rasta’s follow) that adultry is part of their beliefs. That just shows total disrespect for any wife. If she has 6 children for him, how many has he got (Rhoan). He’s really following his fathers footsteps. Yes Bob was a brilliant Musician but he’s NO example to follow. Lauryn, thank goodness you got your life back and your music.You’re the one that should be awarded – strong black woman. Keep it coming girl.

    • You see that. I see that. But Lauryn stayed with him for an extremely long time and kept accepting his seed and birthing him kids. I dunno. Surely we (the public) don’t have the total picture. And Lauryn nor Rohan are required to let us (the public) know either. It’s just that naturally a lot of us care like you and me care about Lauryn and are concerned. I think the best thing we can do is pray for her. And her whole family. Including Rohan. I wish her peace and blessings. She is an extremely talented sista with a lot to offer. God gave her a platform. And even after she’s been incognito for so many years, I don’t believe we’ve heard or seen the last of the Lauryn Hill we remember from the Fugees. I’m waiting for her to come up to the mic and speak. Really speak.

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