Jill Scott grew up in a North Philadelphia neighborhood. After graduating from high school, she attended Temple University while working two jobs. She studied secondary education for three years and had planned to become a high school English teacher, but after spending time as a teacher's aide, disillusionment with teaching set in and she dropped out of school.
Prior to breaking through the music industry, Scott worked at a variety of jobs, including a number of retail positions and stints at a construction site and an ice cream parlor.
Scott began her performing career as a spoken word artist, appearing at live poetry readings.
She was eventually discovered by Amir "?uestlove" Thompson of The Roots. ?uestlove invited her to join the band in the studio. The collaboration resulted in a co-writing credit for Scott on the song, "You Got Me." In 2000, Erykah Badu and The Roots won a Grammy for best rap performance by a duo or group for "You Got Me." Scott debuted as an artist during a Roots live show, singing as original artist/singer of the song. Scott then collaborated with Eric Benet, Will Smith, and Common, and broadened her performing experience by touring Canada in a production of the Broadway musical Rent.
Scott was the first artist signed to Steve McKeever's 'Hidden Beach Recordings' label. Her debut album, Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1 was released in 2000. She had chart success with the single "A Long Walk," eventually earning a Grammy nomination in early 2003 for Best Female Vocal Performance. While she did not win that award she did win a 2005 Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative R&B Performance for "Cross My Mind."
The live album, Experience: Jill Scott 826+, was released November 2001. Scott's second full-length album, Beautifully Human: Words and Sounds Vol. 2, followed in 2004. Scott combines jazz, R&B, spoken word, and hip hop among other genres to create a distinct style that many refer to as neo soul.
Scott continues to write poetry; a compilation volume of her poems, The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours, was published and released by St. Martin's Press in April 2005. In early 2007, Scott was featured on the George Benson & Al Jarreau collaboration "God Bless The Child," which earned Scott her second Grammy award, Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance, at the 2007 Grammy Awards ceremony. Scott shared the win with Benson & Jarreau.
Recently, Scott was featured on hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco's 2006 single "Daydreaming" which won a 2008 Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance and also appeared on a new Scott collection called Collaborations in January 2007.
Collaborations served as lead-in for her next studio album, The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3 released in September 2007. A clip of the title track was released on a bonus disc from Hidden Beach Records and included with Collaborations. The lead single "Hate on Me," gained airplay in May 2007 with a video released in mid-July.
In advance of the album's release, Hidden Beach released a 17-minute album sampler through their forums. Included along with the dozen songs on the sampler was a personal explanation from Jill for the inspiration behind some of her songs.
In 2008, Scott released her second live album, Live In Paris+, which consists of 8 songs recorded during her set list of the "Big Beautiful Tour" in Europe. The bonus DVD contains the same concert, plus some live cuts from The Real Thing: Words and Sounds Vol. 3. In the same year, "Whenever You're Around," a single from The Real Thing which features George Duke, was a moderate hit on urban radio.
Following up 2007's Grammy nominated Gold certified album The Real Thing, Scott began recording her fourth studio album titled The Light of the Sun. However, after a tumultuous legal battle with previous label Hidden Beach—which found her counter-suing the label's claim that she violated her contract with them for a six-album deal last year—Jill Scott signed a distribution deal with Warner Brothers Records. Jill plans to release The Light of the Sun, June 28, 2011.
Before she releases the album, her former record label Hidden Beach Recordings is releasing a 10 song compilation entitled Just Before Dawn: Jill Scott From the Vault, Vol. 1.