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#ThrowbackThursday: “To Zion” by Lauryn Hill

“To Zion” was an album track on the Lauryn Hill solo debut album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

by Sean Smith

The 58th Annual Grammy Awards were held this past Monday. Some of the big winner’s at this year’s festivities were Taylor Swift, who won three Grammys on the night, and Kendrick Lamar, who took home five gilded gramophones this year. Other notable wins went to Ed Sheeran for Song of the Year, Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars for Record of the Year, and Meghan Trainor who won Best New Artist.

Perhaps the biggest winners of the night though, were not those taking home awards, but rather the audience who got to witness some superb performances. Taylor Swift opened the show with a solid rendition of “Out of the Woods”, Little Big Town wowed with a orchestra backed take of their country hit “Girl Crush”,  and Lady Gaga gave a heartfelt tribute to the late great David Bowie. While there were a number of other solid performances on the night as well,t a couple really stood out as being the best of the show. The first was by the cast of Hamilton, who performed live via satellite from their Broadway home at the Richard Rodgers Theater. I will admit that I am a bit bias here, as I’ve listened to the soundtrack a number of times from start to finish and can’t speak of it highly enough. However, even non-fanboys of the hit Broadway show must admit the strength of the overall performance. Another great performance was given to us by Kendrick Lamar. From start to finish, the LA based lyricist gave a thoughtful and powerful performance that transcended the moment. Many have lauded it as the best performance of the evening, and I won’t disagree.

However, there was one performance which I thought fell short of expectations. It was when The Weeknd took to the stage to perfrom “Can’t Fell My Face” and “In the Night”. It’s not that I thought his performance itself was bad, it’s just that I was let down by what didn’t occur during his performance. Rumors heading into the Grammy Awards were that Lauryn Hill was scheduled to appear and sing alongside The Weeknd, which we all saw didn’t end up happening. Representatives for Ms. Hill reached out to Billboard to say that she backed out of the performance due to lack of adequate time to prepare. Regardless of the reason, Lauryn Hill’s non-appearance was a major let down. The Weeknd had an alright performance on his own, but can you imagine how much better it would have been had Lauryn Hill been able to find her way out on to the stage? It very well could have been on par with the inspiring performance Lauryn Hill had with Carlos Santana on the Grammy stage in 1999, when they performed the subject of this week’s edition of #tbt “To Zion”.

Lauryn Hill released her debut solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill on August 25, 1998. The album quickly proved to be a huge success for the former member of the Fugees. The album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart and was overwhelmingly praised by critics. One of the most rawly emotional tracks included on the record was the album track “To Zion”. The deeply personal song talks about how when at the height of Fugees fame Lauryn Hill became pregnant with her first child. She recounts how many people around her were telling her to get an abortion so that her music career wouldn’t be affected negatively by having the child. Ms. Hill kept her child and the rest of the song goes on to say how the joy of her life is in Zion, which is the name she had given to her son. As mentioned, the song was never released as a single, but Lauryn Hill did perform it along with Carlos Santana, who is featured playing guitar on the track, during the 1999 Grammy Awards. It was during that Grammy night that Lauryn Hill would take home five Grammy’s including the one for Album of the Year. It was the very first time in the history of the Grammy’s that a rap album took home the top prize.

So with Lauryn Hill not performing at the Grammy’s on Monday night, as was expected, we instead take a look back at the incredibly personal song that she did perform during the 1999 edition of the show, “To Zion”. Enjoy.

Lauryn Hill 


From: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Ruffhouse/Columbia Records