Lauryn Hill is an African-American recording artist, musician, producer and actress. Early in her career, she established her reputation in the hip-hop world as the lone female member of Fugees. In 1998 she launched her solo career with the release of the commercially successful and critically acclaimed album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The recording earned Hill five Grammy Awards.
Lauryn Hill was born in South Orange, New Jersey, the second of two children born to high school English teacher Valerie Hill and computer programmer Mal Hill. As a child, Hill listened to her parents' Motown 1960s soul records. Music was a central part of the Hill home. Mal Hill sang at weddings, Valerie played the piano, and Lauryn's older brother Melaney played the saxophone, guitar, drums, harmonica, violin, and piano. In 1988, Hill appeared as an Amateur Night contestant on It's Showtime at the Apollo. She sang her own version of Smokey Robinson's song "Who's Lovin' You?".
Hill was childhood friends with actor Zach Braff and both graduated from Columbia High School in 1993, where Hill was an active student, cheerleader, and performer. Braff has spoken of Hill attending his Bar Mitzvah in 1988. Hill enrolled at Columbia University in 1993 and attended for about a year before dropping out to pursue her entertainment career.
Hill began her acting career at a young age, appearing on the soap opera As The World Turns as Kira Johnson. In 1993, she co-starred in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit as Rita Louise Watson, in which she performed the songs "His Eye Is on the Sparrow" (a duet with Tanya Blount) and "Joyful, Joyful". It was in this role that she first came to national prominence, with Roger Ebert calling her "the girl with the big joyful voice". Her other acting work includes the play Club XII with MC Lyte, and the motion pictures King of the Hill, Hav Plenty, and Restaurant. After her rise to musical stardom, she reportedly turned down roles in Charlie's Angels, The Bourne Identity, The Mexican, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
Her on-again, off-again stint in the Fugees began at the age of 13, but was often interrupted by both the acting gigs and her enrollment at Columbia University. After developing a following in the tri-state area, the group's first release Blunted on Reality bombed, almost causing a breakup. But with the multi-platinum The Score, the Fugees (and especially the camera-friendly Hill) achieved international success, though some pundits took shots at their penchant for cover songs.
Hill's solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill had the highest first week sales of any album by a female artist in history. She won four NAACP Image Awards and received 10 Grammy nominations for the album. She went home from the Grammys with five awards, the most ever received by a female artist. The album was also the first hip-hop release in history to win Album of the Year.
Since 1998, Hill has lived in both the Caribbean and an upscale hotel in Miami, but in August 2008, it was reported that Hill was living with her mother and children in her hometown of South Orange, New Jersey
Hill and Wyclef Jean dated through the majority of the Fugees time together, a relationship that friends have called "complicated". In the summer of 1996, she met Rohan Marley, son of the late reggae icon Bob Marley, and openly had a relationship with him. Jean knew about this relationship. Hill soon became pregnant by Marley, who himself was already married. She kept the information about the identity of the baby's father a secret to almost everyone; Jean assumed the baby was his when he first visited her in the hospital. Lauryn Hill is the mother of five children with Rohan Marley.
Though she refers to Marley as her husband, the two appear to have never been legally married. Marley never divorced his first wife, Geraldine Khawly, whom he married in 1993 while a sophomore at University of Miami, Florida.
Following the success of her debut album, Hill largely dropped out of public view, in part due to her displeasure with fame and the music industry. After a four-year hiatus, she released MTV Unplugged No. 2.0, a live recording of "deeply personal songs" performed mostly solo with an acoustic guitar
She appeared on the soundtrack to Conspiracy Theory in 1996 with "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", and on Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood in 2002 with the track "Selah".
In January 2010, Hill returned to the live stage and performed in stops across New Zealand and Australia on the Raggamuffin Music Festival. Many of the songs that Hill had performed and recorded over the past six years were included on an April 2010 unofficial compilation album titled Khulami Phase. The album also features a range of other material found on the Ms. Hill compilation. Hill appeared at the Harmony Festival in Santa Rosa, California, in June 2010, her first live American performance in several years.
In June 2012, Hill was charged with three counts of tax fraud or failing to file taxes on $1.8 million of income earned between 2005 and 2007. During this time she had toured as a musical artist, earned royalties from both her records and from films she had appeared in, and had owned and been in charge of multiple corporations. In a long post to her Tumblr, Hill said that she had gone "underground" and had rejected pop culture's "climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism." She added that, "When I was working consistently without being affected by the interferences mentioned above, I filed and paid my taxes. This only stopped when it was necessary to withdraw from society, in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of myself and my family."