Jill Scott's career is moving at the speed of a jolt of Java. Less than three years ago, the Philadelphia native was performing her unique blend of singing and spoken word at coffeehouses where a "wonderful" meant "audiences no bigger than a hundred people," she says.
This year, Who Is Jill Scott?
Words and Sounds Vol. 1 went platinum. Scott, 29, landed her record contract by sending out tapes—but not the requisite 8-by-10 glossy. "I was determined to get a deal on the strength of my voice," she says. "If it's about what I look like, then no thank you." Her fiancé, graphic artist Lyzel Williams, 29, who inspired her song "He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)," "likes me the way I am," she says.
She might have learned how to win over a record company from observing her mother's powers of persuasion. Joyce, 58, a housepainter, once cajoled a restaurant owner into revealing what made her lemonade so popular. "She said, 'Don't tell anyone, but the secret is rotten lemons,' " Scott says, laughing.
Fresh from a tour with Sting, Scott knows how to stay grounded. "I speak with my 84-year-old grandmother," she says, "and watch reruns of The Cosby Show with my man."