It's the afternoon of the release of Jill Scott's new album. It's also the 15th anniversary of her debut album, Who Is Jill Scott?, and the middle of the Jill Scott Summer Tour. Speaking by phone from the road in Cincinnati, the Grammy-winning singer says she feels as though she's given birth.
"It feels like I've been pregnant for a long time," Scott says. The baby she's talking about is her fifth studio album, Woman. She's been working on it for 21/2 years.
"I can finally let the baby go," Scott says. "It's a load off. The baby now belongs to the world."
The Philly native who famously took us on "A Long Walk" now has tracks peppered with caution: Don't fall for "Fool's Gold" and be "Prepared" for love.
But when it's right, love is a haven in "Can't Wait."
Part of being a grown woman is speaking your mind. Recently, Scott retracted statements in defense of Bill Cosby. She stated on Twitter: "I stood by a man I respected and loved. I was wrong. It HURTS!!! . . . "
Comments on Cosby were off the table for this interview. Many myths have been busted for Scott, and she's sharing her lessons. She talks about what it means to be in love, to be a woman - and the genesis of Woman.
You've said this is "grown-woman-making" music. Tell me about that.
Sometimes we get caught up in the niceness of it all. The loving is nice. The guy is nice, or whoever it is that we're dating. It feels nice, but is it really what you want?. . . We've been living a fairy tale for a long time. My fairy tale is not yours, and yours is not hers. They're all different.
Maybe my hero rides in on a dump truck. It's less about the things that are acquired than it is about who you are and what you really want out of this thing. I know that love is such a strength-builder. It's so powerful. It can be such a safe haven, and it should be. To be honest with yourself is the biggest grown-woman step you can take.
You mentioned love being a strength-builder. What else have you learned?
There are miracles in this life all the time. Sometimes people see each other from across the room and just know. And typically, it's the man. I've learned that men choose. They choose us. My grandmother said that "a woman is a flower and the man is the stem. He must always be looking up to her."
So would you say women love differently from men?
Yes. Once we get on the same page, it's a beautiful ride. But men, once they get hurt, there's something in them that shuts down. We're survivors. We will have our feelings, lose our mind for a minute, and come back stronger, if we're aware of our feelings.
Some of us lock ourselves in a cave, and we don't want to let anybody in. We're afraid of living. And that always concerns or worries me. But men, they'll move on to the next woman with all that hurt and all that baggage.
It's equally your fault, too, for women and men, if you chose to spend your time with that person. Accountability is big on the woman list. It's the reason for "Prepared." [Laughs.]
Let's say you prepare, fall in love - and things don't work out. How do you love after your first love?
After my first love, I think I made some really bad decisions. I just made a series of choices based on who wanted to be with me, rather than taking my time and choosing and making real decisions based on real things.
Is this someone who reads? I like to read. Can we read together? I like to get lost in the city and just explore and look at architecture. Are you someone who likes to do the things I do? . . . I like where I am. I feel like I can see clearer than I did five years ago.
And where are you?
I've discovered that my needs are more important than my wants. . . .
What do I want? [Laughs.] Oh sure, I want to sell a gazillion records and to buy an island and wear curlers in my hair and drive to the market in my pajamas in a convertible Bentley. Sounds great.
What do I need? I need peace of mind. A real friend who can understand me and let me sleep sometimes. I need somebody who's going to wear a tuxedo well for the events I have to go to, but also get on his hands and knees and help me plant in the garden. A friend, a comrade, and an exquisite lover.
Throughout the album, each track seems to represent a different woman.
I looked through my journals and I saw that there was different handwriting based on where I was in my life at the time. . . . And I looked at those journals and I said, "OK, there's a different voice at those times because I was having a much different experience in life than I was having a few months ago." So each song has a personality.
Where can we find the Philly in your music?
Everywhere. "Can't Wait" is a very Philadelphia-soul-driven song that's by Andre Harris, Philadelphia producer. I looked for the Philadelphia sound. The soul. The authentic soul of it all. . . .
I wanted to make music that has its own voice without me, music that feels like something whether I'm there or not.