St. Louis Celebrates 20 years of Lauryn Hill’s Miseducation

Ms. Lauryn Hill Revives Her Iconic Sound to Celebrate 20 Years of Miseducation


On Friday, Oct. 5, fans gathered in Chaifetz Arena to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the timeless album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” After compelling performances by opening acts Shabazz Palaces and Patoranking, a nervous energy descended on the crowd. Hillis infamously known to show up late to her performances, sometimes to a degree of three hours. At 10:15 p.m., the lights dimmed and she entered to a roar of applause and cheers.

Just as she kicked off her debut solo album so iconically 20 years ago, she opened with “Lost One” and wasted no time reminding everyone of her powerful rapping skills. Every word resounded with precision, grace and force. She continued to rap on the next song “Everything is Everything.”

Of course, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” was not the first hip-hop record, not the first soul record and it certainly was not the first R&B album. It blended these influences, however, to create a unique masterpiece. As she transitioned to the next song “Superstar,” Hill reminded us why her album broke so many categories. She mixed hip-hop, soul and R&B, effortlessly switching between rapping and singing. The distinction between genres almost seems inappropriate to describe her performance.

From the beginning of her show, Hill seemed to need adjustments with her monitor. At points, she would motion to the mixers to adjust her incoming sound. Understandably, artists of Hill’s caliber need and deserve good sound mixing. An adjustment mid-show is a reasonable request, but the consistency of her interactions with the sound board distracted from her otherwise incredible performance.

The peak of Hill’s rapping came with the song “Final Hour.” Soon after, she delivered an incredibly moving and emotional performance of “Forgive Them Father.” She tackled themes of violence and hatred with flowing soul and grace. She poured her heart into her singing while images of police violence played on the screens behind her. “Forgive Them Father,” of course, draws from the Gospel of Luke when Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Clearly, Hill channeled this biblical imagery to contextualize police violence in America.

Gospel influences popped up again during Hill’s performance when she started her hit “To Zion.” This love song to her son Zion was another stellar singing performance. Every extended note boomed with precision. It was incredibly expressive while still being controlled. On the album, Carlos Santana’s plucking guitar added a great background sound to the singing, and Hill’s guitarist revived this element pretty well during the show.

Hill’s struggle with the sound mixers ended with her performance of “Ex-Factor.” All of the sudden, her gestures to the booth transformed into her directing her band like a neo-soul conductor. She engaged her entire band and brought them into the spotlight as they performed their solos.

On “Ex Factor,” Hill’s vocal performance shined brightest. She sang with unapologetic emotion and every word glided from her microphone and into the hearts of her loving fans. It was soul, it was blues, it was gospel and it was virtuosic. As if she couldn’t effortlessly blend these genres together any more, her next song “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” brought in elements of jazz.

Hill took her first break after an hour of performing to address the crowd. She talked about how countless people have told her that “Miseducation” was the soundtrack to their life. She credited this to its sensitivity and vulnerability. “I was raised in a tradition of love and community and music”, Hill said. “And I want to take that tradition and pour it back into you.”

She ended with her smash hit “Doo Wop (That Thing).”  Excitement came to its zenith as fans celebrated an incredible album and an entertaining performance. It was as good as a finale as fans could have hoped for after the night. As the lights came on around 11:30 p.m., the concert came to a quick conclusion.

It was clear that “Miseducation” still remains dear to her devoted fans 20 years after its release. Her flowing lines of rap and flourishing vocals have not stopped touching the hearts of listeners—new and old.