Lauryn Hill hasn’t granted many interviews as of late, but NPR managed to score some one-on-one time with the reclusive singer during her visit to the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, Calif., earlier this month.
Reporter Zoe Chace was invited to ride in the former Fugees member’s car following her performance and soon found out that Ms. Hill, as she prefers to be called, is doing just fine despite the rumors.
On why she stopped putting out music: “There were a number of different reasons. But partly, the support system that I needed was not necessarily in place. There were things about myself, personal-growth things, that I had to go through in order to feel like it was worth it. In fact, as musicians and artists, it’s important we have an environment—and I guess when I say environment, I really mean the [music] industry, that really nurtures these gifts. Oftentimes, the machine can overlook the need to take care of the people who produce the sounds that have a lot to do with the health and well-being of society, or at least some aspect of society. And it’s important that people be given the time that they need to go through, to grow, so that the consciousness level of the general public is properly affected. Oftentimes, I think people are forced to make decisions prematurely. And then that sound radiates.”
On wanting to sing more: “I’m trying to open up my range and really sing more. With The Fugees initially, and even with Miseducation, it was very hip-hop—always a singing over beats. I don’t think people have really heard me sing out. So if I do record again, perhaps it will have an expanded context. Where people can hear a bit more.”
On why she started to perform again: “I don’t know if you know this, but I have five children. The youngest is 2 now, so she’s old enough that I can leave her for a period of time and know she’s going to be okay. That’s one reason. And I think it’s just time. I’m starting to get excited again. Believe it or not, I think what people are attracted to about me, if anything, is my passion. People got exposed to my passion through music and song first. I think people might realize, you know, ‘We love the way she sounds, we love the music, but I think we just love how fearless she is. How boundless she is, when it comes to what she wants to do.’ And I think that can be infectious.”
On staying healthy: “I think if I was created with such power or an ability, then what’s also been put in me is the blueprint for the responsibility part, as well. I have to take care of myself in order to take care of this gift, which has affected so many. I don’t treat it lightly. It’s important to me to be healthy and to be whole.”