Before there was a debut album leading to a stellar career, there was a Philadelphia open mic night convened by Jill Scott herself.
3801 Market Street is more than just an address. It is a venue owned by the AME Church where all manner of conferences, concerts and other convenings are staged in West Philly. And on the 3rd floor, off to the right, was a cozy cafe space where young poets and vocalists gathered to try out new material and build a community. Jill Scott and her bestie Leslie Pina were the original host and promoter, respectively. And what they created set the stage for a revolution of artistry from the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, along with a whole new wave of talent achieving major label success.
While The Roots were the city's go-to source for live contemporary music, poets and vocalists had several spaces where they would root themselves to establish a signature sound and performance style. Words and Sounds was one such venue. As you will see with the photos below, even though she launched the venue and served as its original host, Jill was already out auditioning for other opportunities and landed a spot as the Featured Vocalist for the Canadian touring company of RENT. By the time she returned, she'd garnered a cult following of fans and was well into completing that Grammy-nominated debut album. So WORDS & SOUNDS was firmly on her mind.
And me? I took over hosting duties while Jill was away. And my experience with those audiences, watching the talent find their wings, was a HUGE encouragement to eventually open Soul Sanctuary.