I interviewed a lot of people for my story about Lauryn Hill’s voice. I had to, because I didn’t know if I’d be able to speak to her myself. The singer and rapper last released a recording eight years ago. She rarely performs in the U.S., and she almost never gives interviews. But her fans haven’t forgotten her — they’re still pleading for her to come back. Hill is a fantastic singer, as well as one of the greatest MCs of all time, and the story of her voice is the story of a generation.
It doesn’t take much for a group of 30-somethings to get nostalgic about Hill. Put her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, on at a bar, and it takes the crowd right back to college days or high-school summers. I met Daryl Lutz while he was hanging out with a group of friends on the deck of Marvin’s Bar in downtown Washington, D.C.
“We went to school in Hampton, Va., and she came to do a show,” he said. “It was one of the best times in my life — I mean, she spoke to me! We snuck backstage and I got her to sign my meal card. She said, ‘This is your meal card, brother, you know?’ I said, ‘That’s all I got.’ She signed it, ‘Eat well — L. Boogie.’ That’s something I’ll never forget. I love her. I love her to death.”
I heard tons of stories like Lutz’s that night — mostly closed with this plea: “Come back, Lauryn. We need you. Come back!” People spoke directly into the microphone, as if it were a telephone line.
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