Jill Scott
Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham
Thursday, July 30, 2015

43 years seems like a decent time period in which to judge whether you have become or are still on your journey to becoming the person you want to be—to becoming your own hero, an exemplar of your species. But as Jill Scott pointed out from DPAC’s stage on Thursday night, between hits tapped from her deep catalogue and her latest LP, Woman, there’s levels to this shit. Sometimes we have no one to blame for our situations but ourselves.

“I’m holding myself to another level of accountability,” Scott recently said about naming her record Woman after getting married, raising a child and so on. “I used to blame whoever it was that hurt my feelings. Now I hold myself accountable. Accountability plays a big position in being a woman and in being adult, in officially owning your womanhood.”

Almost immediately, her show stepped into high intensity sultriness with “The Way,” from her 2000 debut, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1. That rolled into the bedroom favorite “Crown Royal.” When the song hit its passion point, Scott walked a few feet back, grabbed her glass of wine, took a swig and leaned against her drummer’s glass shield. As he played his solo against her backside, she squirmed and writhed. Most everyone in the crowd became transfixed, transformed into temporary voyeurs watching one of the legendary soul woman be accountable for her exhibitionism. When the session was over, she returned to the mic stand at the front of the stage and addressed her audience with a devilish grin.

“I encourage the young people to learn how to play the drums,” she said, jokingly.

Thursday’s show was all about Scott’s womanhood, but it was complemented by a full band of male musicians. Her three background singers— whom she affectionately referred to as “The Pipes”—amped her presence with their repertoire of dance routines and harmonies. For the bluesy power ballad “You Don’t Know,” they left their background positions and joined her center stage for a doo-wop take.

Later, she wandered through “Cross My Mind,” offered a jazzed-up go-go version of “A Long Walk” and induced party madness for “It’s Love.” She closed with the feel-good radio hit “Golden,” as if to finish with a reaffirming message that, this time around, she’s taking everyone’s freedom, putting it in her song and hoping we stay accountable and appreciative for the chance to remain works in progress.