Voice coach Veronica Monro
She came, she sang, she conquered. It took a live performance of reclusive superstar Lauryn Hill for VERONICA MONRO to rediscover why singing is her lifelong love.
As an admirer of great singing – and part of being a vocal coach – I have a tendency to be critical of singers and performers.
I can’t help it. And believe me, the bad habit detracts heavily from simply enjoying the melodies that resonate in my ears when I’m at concerts and gigs or even just watching the occasional live DVD.
I’ve seen many performers return to the stage after a short or long hiatus, only to be disappointed by their lack of showmanship, and worse, lacklustre singing.
However, as I stood to the side of the stage at Sydney’s Enmore Theatre amidst a reggae crowd complete with Jamaican colours, dreadlocks, and the occasional trademark hint of a certain plant being smoked by a group of punks behind me, I had a feeling that the iconic Lauryn Hill would not disappoint.
It’s been 10 years since her first solo effort, ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’, was nominated for 10 Grammy awards, of which she won five. It made her the first female artist to ever receive such an accolade in one year and it also set the benchmark for other female hip-hop artists and singers to follow.
The fabulous Ms Lauryn Hill.
She walks on stage to a loud roar and I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by her presence – this is a woman whose ideals I believe in. I may not be a big fan of her popular music, but I am a great fan of what she stands for and the message she has promoted to women in the past decade, which has been unwelcomed many times even by those close to her.
The story of her morality aside, I jump back into consciousness to hear the sound of her voice … and for the first time in a long time, I am in awe of a performance.
Lauryn Hill’s still got it. Even after a few long years away from the limelight, (having supposedly cancelled two tours in both 2008 and 2009 – we should be so lucky!) this woman still has what it takes to get people to pay attention to her message through a song with cutting rhymes and amazing vocal technique.
Her singing is impeccable for such a high-energy set, and she doesn’t fail to impress with her well-timed scats and vocal improvisations. For an artist who has been dubbed ‘tardy’ by the media over the years, she certainly makes up for it in stage presence and a tight reign over her band, and her audience.
One hour flies by too quickly, and though she performs popular songs from both her time with The Fugees, and from ‘Miseducation’, she doesn’t perform the historical encore that the entire crowd anticipates, considering we may never see her on stage again.
In spite of this slight disappointment, to have even seen her in the flesh is enough for me – a philanthropist through music, Ms Hill is an inspiration and driving force for writers, musicians, singers and artists all over.