As a member of the best-selling hip hop trio The Fugees, Lauryn Hill made a name for herself as a top emcee who could also sing a nice hook. But the improbable success of the group's 1996 album "The Score," driven in large part by Hill's vocals on a remake of Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly With His Song," did little to prepare the world for what was coming when she stepped out on her own.
To this day, 1998's "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" remains a cultural touchstone for millions of Americans who were intoxicated by the album's seamless blend of hip hop, reggae, soul and R & B. The record, which spawned the ubiquitous single"Doo Wap (That Thing)," turned the introspective performer into a global superstar.
And then she vanished.
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With few exceptions, Hill has kept a low-profile since her last record, "MTV Unplugged 2.0," which was released to divided reviews in 2002. During the recording session for that album, Hill explained to the crowd that her self-imposed hiatus was due in large part to her disillusionment with the trappings of celebrity.
"Fantasy is what people want, but reality is what they need," she said during the performance.
But now the reclutant star may be stepping back into the spotlight. She was recently announced as a performer in the star-studded, four-city Rock the Bells tour kicking off later this summer and opened up on her absence in an interview with NPR's "All Things Considered."
“There were a number of different reasons, but partly, y’know, the support system that I needed was not necessarily in place," Hill said of why she stopped recording. "There were things about myself, things that I needed to go through and experience, in order for me to feel like it was worth it.”
Hill, who said she's been working on ways to increase her vocal range, thinks people might be surprised when they hear her again.
“Most people have never really heard me sing-sing-sing,” she said. “If I do record next time, perhaps there will be an expanded context. People can hear a bit more.”
During the NPR interview, Hill hinted that she may even be ready to record some new material, now that her children are growing up.
"I think it’s just time, and I’m starting to get excited again,” she said.