Anxiously awaiting her arrival, fans couldn’t hold back their excitement as they quickly filled Toronto’s Sound Academy not only in numbers, but also with the whispers of possible song selections, album choices, and even wardrobe choices. It was a series of thoughts that seemed to linger in the air long before the legendary songstress Lauryn Hill hit the stage.

Even though Toronto was in a buzz from hosting weeklong festivals such as the music and ideas focused NXNE (North by Northeast) and the weeklong celebrations of World Pride, the city still came in full force to listen to what the femcee had to bring to the stage. The large presence was in attendance not to only to hear her undeniable vocal chops, but to be reintroduced to a familiar face that has graced the music scene and the silver screen countless times before, but hasn’t made a Toronto appearance since 2011.

Getting the crowd warmed up with classic tunes from reggae artists such as Beenie Man, Bob Marley and Elephant Man was just a snippet of what was to come from the Fugees’ native. Fusing her notable love for reggae culture with her timeless hits from over the years was a treat many were not expecting over the course of the performance. Audience members visibly fell in love, sang along and jammed with the songstress all the while, which further brought her songs to life. A wall-sized backdrop behind the performing band, which displayed song lyrics, newspaper clippings and astronomical images added to the positive vibes.

The frequent breaks she took in-between songs to recharge for her next set also seemed to be to her benefit as she proceeded to belt her heart out on each new remixed track.

Bringing a reggae/dancehall approach to ageless songs such as “Killing Me Softly”, “Ready or Not”, “Doo Wop” and “Fu-Gee-La”, seemed to be the right approach to Ms. Hill’s solo performance as she would often blend these iconic tunes with frequent references to the city of Toronto. It often got the audience going. The frequent breaks she took in-between songs to recharge for her next set also seemed to be to her benefit as she proceeded to belt her heart out on each new remixed track.

Sporting a leather snap back accompanied by a black silk varsity jacket, red-legged pants and a black mesh top was a very bold choice for the singer, but not a surprising one. Known for marching to the beat of her own drum, Lauryn Hill’s fashion choices have always been notable and her attire for the evening proved to be of no exception. Coincidentally, her outfit represented her performance and overall character — carefree, fun and real with no holding back on her performance, remixed classics and attire of choice. Lauryn Hill delivered what she does best, displaying a measure of undeniable realness and authenticity.

Words By. Aliecia Brissett + Photos By. Janelle Scott-Johnson