There’s only one Lauryn Hill. And it doesn’t matter what angle her fans or music lovers see her from.
She could be the shy 13-year-old who endured a string of boos while performing during Amateur Night at the Apollo more than two decades ago. Or she could be warning you “Ready or not, here I come, you can’t hide” as part of the hip-hop trio The Fugees in the 1990s. Or she could be the woman from the iconic “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” video, where she donned her signature locks and a retro updo for the song, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1998.
Hill has earned the respect of fellow musicians and fans for her deep, honest lyrics. They include celebrating the birth of her son in “To Zion” and her sorrowful ballad “Ex-Factor.” Both hits were on her 1998 debut album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” which earned five Grammy Awards.
That artistry is what many fans are waiting to see when Hill performs April 26 at the Crown Coliseum. The show is part of her “MLH Caravan: A Diaspora Calling! Concert Series.” Paul Beaubrun is the opening act.
Alli Focke, director of marketing for the Crown Complex, said the Crown was happy to book Hill.
“This is a special tour she’s doing,” Focke said. “It’s a bucket list concert for a lot of people. She spans more than one demo.”
One of those toying with the idea of attending the concert is Jennifer Cochran. The wife and mother of a 3-year-old daughter calls herself “obsessed” with Hill.
“She’s in the top five of my favorite artists for sure,” said Cochran, who is 30. “There’s a few albums I listen to all the time and ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ is one of them. I feel when you listen to the lyrics, they make a lot of sense and are powerful in what they say. I’m impressed by that, and I love how unique her voice is.”
Cochran’s love for Hill is rooted in the artist’s time with The Fugees. She said her father loved the trio’s rendition of Roberta Flack’s hit “Killing Me Softly,” which showcased Hill’s effortless voice.
“The rest of the album wasn’t his type of music, so I took the album from him,” she confessed with a laugh. “I like to sing with her and sometimes, I scream at the top of my lungs to sing it so passionately.”
Cochran saw Hill perform in Asheville at the Orange Peel. Cochran didn’t leave the concert without snapping a picture of Hill mid-performance. The picture found a place on Cochran’s Instagram page.
“She’s the one I had to see before I died,” she said. “It was very nice because I waited all these years to see her and it never lined up. I was so impressed and happy to cross that off my bucket list.”
After Hill’s debut album, she retreated from the spotlight with angst about the music industry and pressures from fame. She followed up “Miseducation” with a live “Unplugged” album in 2002, which polarized critics and fans.
Since then, her work has been praised, but she also has been criticized for arriving at shows hours…