Philly singing legend Jill Scott made music listeners across the country pause during her striking rendition of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” at the “Shining A Light: A Concert For Progress on Race in America” concert in Los Angeles.
The show, which also featured Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Zac Brown Band, Big Sean and more, was broadcast on multiple networks on Nov. 20.
“It was a pretty extraordinary day,” Scott says. “I was asked to sing ‘Strange Fruit’ and the song is so relevant to so many things today. I recently spent some time in Mississippi and I noticed how the plantations have now become bed and breakfasts and it was so insensitive, actually, given that so much hurt and so many atrocities took place.”
“Strange Fruit” was recorded by Holiday in 1939 as a protest of the lynchings of African-Americans in the South.
“It hurt because I’m pretty sure no one would have tea outside of Auschwitz,” Scott says. “When I performed the song, I felt myself standing on the porches [of the plantations] and I could literally see human beings hanging from those trees. I took that approach [to the song]. I wanted it to hurt because it hurts.”
Scott has been an artist of resonance since her days in the city’s spoken word open mic scene. The North Philly native was discovered by Questlove of the Roots. Her first album, 2000’s “Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1,” was a smash.
Scott’s most recent record, the sultry, smart and soulful “Woman,” debuted at No. 1 this summer, and she’s been busy acting too, with a recent appearance on the BET breakout hit “Being Mary Jane.”
Now, it’s time for a hometown party as she headlines the WDAS Holiday Jam on Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center. New Edition, SWV, Tyrese and fellow hometown gal Jazmine Sullivan are also on the bill. “I can’t wait for the love,” Scott says.
If you go:
WDAS Holiday Jam
with Jill Scott, New Edition, SWV, Jazmine Sullivan, and Tyrese
Saturday, Nov. 28,6:30 p.m.
Wells Fargo Center
3601 S. Broad St., 215-336-3600
$39.50 to $149.50