Disappearing Acts

When Katrina Parker sang the Lauryn Hill version of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” last night on The Voice, it made me nostalgic for a certain artist. (You can hear the Lauryn Hill version featured in my very first fan video – see above.)

It also made me suddenly cautious about whether or not David will come back to the pop scene.  Don’t get me wrong: I do believe David loves music way too much to not come back to it, but pop stardom?  Lots of questions and lots of low expectations.  Why?

One powerful example: Lauryn Hill.

I’m one of those members of the “hip-hop generation” from the East Coast, who grew up on soul music-influenced hip hop, from the Sugar Hill Gang and Doug E. Fresh when I was school-aged to Salt-n-Pepa and Public Enemy during my high school days to Queen Latifah and Tupac Shakur during my college years.  Lauryn Hill came onto the scene when I was a young adult trying to make my way in graduate school and in establishing a career.  Her The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album was the anthem to my struggles as a black woman, and I love how, nearly 15 years later, it has aged gracefully and still holds the all-time record of best hip-hop album ever (IMO and the opinions of others).

In all her dark-skinned beauty and high intelligence (the Newark-born Hill had received a scholarship to Columbia University but eventually dropped out to pursue a career in music and acting) she did gigs on soap operas like As the World Turns, co-starred with Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act 2, and eventually  joined the politically conscious hip-hop group The Fugees, which also featured Wyclef and Pras.  When she branched out on her own – which she did to challenge the misconception that there were no “genius” female musicians – she hit it big. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief that we could finally have such a beautiful dark sister with talent and intelligence who essentially changed the rap game from a chauvinistic testosterone-filled music to a womanly art form.

But things changed.  The sudden stardom rubbed her the wrong way, and she definitely wasn’t comfortable with being in the spotlight.  (Remind you of anyone?)

At the cusp of victory with a multiplatinum album and 5 Grammys to her name, Lauryn Hill was offered a co-starring role alongside Matt Damon in the first of the Bourne series, The Bourne Identity, she was offered to play the title role in Oprah Winfrey’s Beloved, and she was also offered a role in The Matrix (not sure which, perhaps Trinity?).  All of these opportunities to crossover into movies, and she turned them all down.

At the time, she was pregnant with her first child.  She entered into a relationship with Rohan Marley, one of the sons of the iconic Bob Marley, who Lauryn idolized, and did a follow-up “Unplugged” album, which seemed to decry the superficialities of stardom and the music industry.  Many fans were disappointed (as the above video indicated, people wanted the sequel to Miseducation).  Afterwards, she just disappeared from pop music…forever!!!!!!!

Some of her fans (and I am one of them) have waited in vain for the sure-to-be amazing next album, but Lauryn Hill never delivered. Instead, she retreated into a bizarre underground religion, one that emphasized that she follow her “true nature,” which apparently expects her to be a submissive “earth mother.” She is now the mother of six children and was recently dumped by Rohan after all these years.

Yes, the great Lauryn Hill, who was at the top of her game, gave it all up for religion, motherhood, and “keeping it real.” Many believed she done lost her natural mind.

So, I wish David nothing but the best and hope he can truly make a comeback after his mission. But when I think of “disappearing acts,” Lauryn Hill tops them all. She is very much a cautionary tale about being a fan and expecting way too much.

The world is definitely a bit darker without the genuine talents of some who can really light up the world. But I do have to respect individuals who make a decision to “walk away from it all.” Only they know what the high costs are, and the fact that they are still willing to do this definitely deserves our respect.

Still, when revisiting amazing songs like the one below, I can’t help but hold out hope: maybe, someday, Lauryn Hill will reclaim her throne.

I now can only hope David will do the same two years from now.

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Posted on May 1, 2012, in current trends. Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. Hg, thank you for the great post.
    Boy, I sure hope that he continues with his music career. IMO, if he comes back and doesn’t get back to his career it will be a big slap on the face to all the diehard fans that stuck around for the two very hard years, took him for his word that he would return to music. I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem to be something David would do.

  2. Interesting but the comparison to Lauryn Hill does not hold. Lauryn’s difficulty in making a “comeback” has a lot to do with erratic behavior (arriving 3 hours late for shows and arguing with fans) and six pregnancies. I doubt those are issues David will have to del with.

    • To this day, I love the “Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” cd. I’ve often wondered what the cause was of her erratic behavior. When Lauryn Hill and Eryka Badu appeared on the scene, they filled a void that Janet Jackson wasn’t reaching with her pop sound.

  3. This is a very good post and it is something that I’ve thought about when David decided to go on a mission. There is a real possibility that he enjoys so much his mission so that he changes his mind regarding a normal music career. I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes another route when he comes back home since he is full of surprises and he has showed that a music career isn’t the number one priority in his life. I wouldn’t blame him for not continuing with music as most people expect because at the end of the day he should follow his heart.
    I would rather he is happy than he returns to music just because he feels force to do it.
    Whatever decision he takes I hope he will be happy.

    • I hope he comes back to music, but I am definitely not setting myself up for disappointment because David may change his mind. Hope everyone is doing well!

      • thanks for the well wishes; we’re surviving . hope all is well down under.

      • Thanks, Desertrat! Things are going well down here in NZ. It has been cold lately, but I am enjoying the area.

  4. Interesting post. I thought it was very insightful. I was a fan of Lauryn. I hope that David gains some confidence in his musical abilities and some self growth while he his gone. He does not need to be anymore humble than he already is or sacrifice anything more in his life IMO. It is on David now if he wants in a music career not his fans. I fully accept that and I have no problem with it.

    • I do think it’s very positive that David is finally around peers his own age. I think that can be a good thing for him.

    • Marie, I agree, David doesn’t need to be more humble that he already is and yes, he needs to gain confidence in his musical abilities.

      I am here waiting for David to return to music, I won’t lie, I will be very disappointed if he choses a different direction. If he has that in his mind, I think he would do the honorable thing and let us know so that we can move on, of course through Kari.

      • “…let us know so that we can move on…” OK, the thought of that happening choked me up a little. I am so not ready for that.

  5. Another thing Lauryn and David have in common is that they both sang “Who’s Loving You” on a national talent show. Here’s Lauryn singing at the Apollo at age 13; unfortunately, she was booed.

    • Wow. The crowd at the Apollo was tough on the talent. I agree with you cq about the need for communication regarding David’s career plans. That seems fair. It seems like he has plans now but it could change. I hope it does not.

    • hell0g0rge0us

      Oy, my people my people! But what a brave girl @13! 🙂

      Now she gets to join Legends who were booed at the Apollo (Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, I think).

      Good on her (and thanks for making that link b/t David and Lauryn, Desertrat).

      I definitely prefer David’s version! 🙂

  6. hell0g0rge0us

    Absolutely ridiculous that Chris Mann made it to the finals over Lindsey Pavao (I downloaded her “Skinny Love,” which is amazing!)

    • Well Christina did not help with her 50/50 vote. I think Christina has a great voice but don’t care for her rude attitude at times. I bet Tony wins over Katrina.

      • IMO it should have been: Lindsey, Javier, Juliet and I am not so sure about the 4th person.

      • hell0g0rge0us

        I’m really annoyed at Xtina right now. It’s clear from the scores that, had she given Lindsey a 60 point advantage, she would have made it through. Why pretend with that 50/50 copout when she basically begged America to vote for Lindsey?

  7. hell0g0rge0us

    OK, the formatting on The Voice really sucks! I’m so glad Juliet made it to the finals (the only girl!), but what truly is sucktastic is that Jamar was the BEST male contestant on the show, and he’s the only guy not to advance to the finals! Ugh!! 😦

  8. Awww. Jamar should have been in the final 4. So unfair . Juliet and Jamar were the best.

  9. Wow. I haven’t watched The Voice at all, but you guys keep mentioning Jamar and it kinda rung a bell. I just had to look him up. I didn’t realize it’s the same Jamar from American Idol…Danny Gokey’s good friend. I thought he was fantastic! I was shocked and disappointed when he didn’t make it to the top 24! I hope things work out for him.

  10. it’s quiet in here today. everyone must be out searching missionary blogs for pics of david.

    for the record, i’m just kidding. 😉

  11. i just flipped to american idol on tv. is it me or is ryan seacrest looking more and more like a wax figure? everything about him (hair, dimples, fitted suits, etc.) looks so perfect.

  12. hell0g0rge0us

    I’ve been super busy today so didn’t get a chance to update my blog, so I tuned into Idol.

    Sigh. It’s absolutely outrageous to think Phillip Phillips could win the whole thing when tonight it is so obvious he’s waaaaaaay out of his league compared to the others.

    “Time of the Season” was absolutely painful to listen to, and I didn’t even recognize the first song, it was so rearranged beyond human recognition!

    Ugh! He needs to go ASAP!

    • I keep thinking that Skylar may be the most marketable but I have no idea who will win this. It could be Philip. I really don’t have a favorite this year. I figure if Scotty won last year and Lee the year before than anything is possible. lol

      • hell0g0rge0us

        Joshua could end up winning by default. I’m pulling for Hollie though, even though she’s been in the bottom 3 so many times.

    • Phillip is in last place on dialidol now–they’re not always right, but they were right about Colton.

  13. i thought jessica’s “you are so beautiful” and hollie’s “bleeding love” were the top performances tonight. i thought joshua over sang “to love somebody”. and i wasn’t feeling phillip’s “time of the season” at all; i think the performance exposed his weaknesses.

    steven tyler had never heard “bleeding love” before. i know he’s not a pop guy but he’s on “american idol” now; knowing top 10 pop hits is a requirement for being an idol judge, lol.

  14. I’m pulling for Hollie, too, HG. There’s just something about her that I really like, but I seriously doubt that she’ll win. Unlike other years, I think all of the top 5 are all incredibly talented…I just hate to see the same type of artist win every year.

    Dear David~ The guitar is where it’s at. You needed to know how to play one 4 yrs ago, while making strange faces that look like you’re in pain. lol.

    • hell0g0rge0us

      I know, right? 😆

      • Mm-hmm. Oh! And on a different topic, since I’m obviously bored tonight (thanks, AI)…I was telling an acquaintance that I don’t trust FOX News to be truthful since they falsely reported that JIVE dropped David. Now, this is an older guy who barely knows who David is. And he said “Oh. I heard they took that story back,” “What?” “Yeah. They said they got the wrong information, and corrected the story on the air.” “Are you sure the topic was David? His last name is Archuleta, ya know..” “Yep. I’m sure. I wouldn’t forget a name like that.” I’m sure it was just my local station, but still….cool! 🙂 ‘K. ‘Night.

    • Yes ,David should be practicing on the guitar while he is away. lol I actually like all of the remaining top 5 and don’t care who wins. I do like P2 better than Scotty not that it means much. I think that it will help Skylar that she is country because if Scotty’s album could sell well than Skylar has to be very marketable as a country artist.

  15. I have been rooting for Hollie and thought she did very well tonight!! Only watched the first half as Brian Williams interview everyone re: Bin Laden capture last year (everyone but the Seals) Did see the You tubes of second half performances!!

  16. I actually like all the remaining AI contestants too and I don’t really care who wins. I wonder if season 7 would have turned out differently if twitter had been popular back then. I mention this because after most of the performances last night, the contestant became a trending topic.

  17. Someone sent this out on twitter today and I’d never seen it before: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTOaMGcyqng

    David singing Happy Birthday at Anaheim VIP. Talk about some Soul David! His voice is magic ❤

    • P.S. I have no idea how to embed video like I see other people do here so I just posted the link. Hope that’s ok!

    • that ending … wow! i think david would be a great jazz vocalist if he chose.

      • I was surprised that it was Skylar that left tonight although Hollie is very talented. I bet P2 wins this as he has never been in the bottom 3. It is nice to not really be vested in who wins this year. After being such a David fan in S7 it is kind of nice to not really care that much. lol

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