If you were ever one to doubt Lauryn Hill—her relevancy as a musician and whether or not, well, she’s still got it—the Friday-into-Saturday-morning performance at Diaspora Calling! (Hill took the stage just before 1 a.m.) would indicate that now’s the time to take a seat.
Actually, 12 seats might suffice.
Diaspora Calling!, the three-day music and art festival hosted by Hill and Tidal X, brought together scores of the melanin-rich and their allies to Kings Theatre in New York City’s Brooklyn borough.
The theater was bustling, and its walls were decked out with visual art: photography, collage, paintings, jewelry—the works. Opening acts like Stephen Marley also took to the main stage, but let’s be real. Hill’s sold-out performance was the draw. And rightfully so.
Ms. Hill was in rare form.
Her 90-minute performance was like witnessing a second coming. She was clad in a floor-length white dress with tie-dye accents and the African Ankara rope necklace of life. Along with her full band, background singers and dancers (think Fela’s dancing queens), L-Boogie commanded the audience, taking it through a catalog of her music spanning nearly two decades.
She opened with a procession of African dancers and drummers. She then took to her guitar with super-emotive songs from MTV UnPlugged No. 2.0. The singer then brought the audience to its feet with tracks from the Fugees’ Grammy-winning album, The Score. She also covered Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.”
Throughout the performance, Hill dropped a few favorites from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill: “Everything Is Everything,” “Zion” (after performing the song, she brought her teenage son, Zion, to the stage) and “Doo Wop (That Thing).”
The woman was on fire. And from the ashes, a phoenix rises.
Welcome back, Ms. Hill—and please stay a while. We’ve missed you. Immensely.
Felice León is multimedia editor at The Root.