Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 (2000)—Jill Scott
Who Is Jill Scott was the first project where A Touch Of Jazz was given total control. I met Jill through a mutual friend. I’m into really creative people and Jill is out the box. She was a poet who happened to know how to sing. She was known on the poetry circuit. I thought this would be great because I had never heard someone flipping poetry, R&B and writing hooks the way she did. There were seven of us in A Touch of Jazz: Vidal Davis, Andre Harris, Ivan Barias, Carvin Haggins, Keith Pelzer, Darren Henson, and myself. We would make records before, but sometimes it bothered me that some of the best music never got heard. But we kept pushing. We wanted to give more of an organic soul sound influenced by the music we grew up on with the same hip-hop beats that knocked in the club; let’s combine all of this stuff together.
What I wanted to do was give a bunch of up-and-coming producers an opportunity to make records. Just teaching them and showing them how to make records; how to be engineers; and how to develop your sound. A Touch of Jazz had two studios and a bunch of equipment. If we had a situation where someone was doing a track and we needed live drums Vidal would come in and play drums. Everybody was into helping each other. We didn’t know we were creating something magical. It just felt good and sounded good to us.
We did about seven or eight songs in about two weeks. But I did what everybody said not to do. I burnt those songs on a CD and I basically gave it to everybody I knew that liked music. People started passing it around like, ‘Aw man, this is great.’. We passed Jill’s music around to the point where people over at Sony thought she was signed to their label because so many folks in their office were playing her songs [laughs]. That caught the attention of Steve McKeever at Hidden Beach, who I knew when he was at Motown, and he really loved it. What he said to me that was the deciding factor was, ‘I don’t want to change anything. Do Jill’s album exactly how you did it.’ That creative freedom paid off. Who Is Jill Scott ended up selling two million albums. We would have been happy with 100,000 copies just so Jill would be able to go on tour [Laughs].