National Public Radio Interviews Lauryn Hill

I interviewed a lot of people for my story about Lauryn Hill's voice.

I had to, because I didn't know if I'd be able to speak to her myself. The singer and rapper last released a recording eight years ago. She rarely performs in the U.S., and she almost never gives interviews. But her fans haven't forgotten her — they're still pleading for her to come back. Hill is a fantastic singer, as well as one of the greatest MCs of all time, and the story of her voice is the story of a generation.

It doesn't take much for a group of 30-somethings to get nostalgic about Hill. Put her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, on at a bar, and it takes the crowd right back to college days or high-school summers. I met Daryl Lutz while he was hanging out with a group of friends on the deck of Marvin's Bar in downtown Washington, D.C.

"We went to school in Hampton, Va., and she came to do a show," he said. "It was one of the best times in my life — I mean, she spoke to me! We snuck backstage and I got her to sign my meal card. She said, 'This is your meal card, brother, you know?' I said, 'That's all I got.' She signed it, 'Eat well — L. Boogie.' That's something I'll never forget. I love her. I love her to death."

I heard tons of stories like Lutz's that night — mostly closed with this plea: "Come back, Lauryn. We need you. Come back!" People spoke directly into the microphone, as if it were a telephone line.

In a June interview with NPR reporter/producer Zoe Chace as part of NPR's 50 Great Voices Series, Hill confirmed that she was planning to begin recording again and discussed her hiatus and five children. Ronald Isley of the Isley Brothers has confirmed he is working with Hill on his upcoming album as well.