Lauryn Hill was a welcome respite from the promotional TIFF hullabaloo on Saturday at Kool Haus, where the former Fugee headlined the annual One X One fundraiser for worldwide children’s programs.
She sang soulfully, rapped strikingly and shilled for nothing. “I wrote these words for Toronto,” she sang on Everything is Everything, localizing a lyric before vocalizing the song’s universal hope and truth: “After winter, must come spring – change, it comes eventually.”
The evening featured red carpets and appearances on stage by R&B singer Jully Black, rapper Kardinal Offishall and the flag-waiving anthem-artist K’naan. Hill, like American Eagle airline, is notorious for her late arrivals. But with charity at stake, she was punctual, hitting the stage elegantly (in a short black dress) pretty much on time.
Her band’s spry, spongy cover of the Stevie Wonder reggae jam Master Blaster was well received. She killed us softly with Roberta Flack’s song. And she left the room high with Doo Wop (That Thing), from her Grammy-monopolizing masterpiece The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Everything is everything, still, and Hill was everything her audience could have hoped for.