Mitt Romney: Profile of a Businessman

May 11, 2012 1 comment

Mitt Romney is a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He is a businessman as well as a former governor of Massachusetts. His accomplishments include signing a statewide health reform program into law which gave most residents access to health insurance. As a frontrunner for the 2012 nomination as president, he was among nearly a dozen Republicans who sought the party’s nomination to run against Democratic President Barack Obama, who was seen as vulnerable amid relatively high unemployment and the lingering effects of a recession from the Bush administration. But Romney’s campaign has received a significant level of criticism from people who feel that the background in business that he proudly touts on the trail could have a particularly negative effect on his presidential aspirations.

According to his biography published on Biography.com, Mitt Romney was born Willard Mitt Romney on March 12th 1947 and raised in the affluent town of Bloomfield Hills Michigan. He is the son of George Romney, a contender to be the Republican candidate for presidency who was defeated by Richard Nixon in 1968.

Though Romney grew up with wealth and privilege as the son of a Michigan governor, he has tried to downplay his early advantages and said in a speech that he took “an entry-level job” after graduating from Harvard law and business schools with a joint J.D. /M.B.A. degree in 1975. Mitt Romney began his career in business, working at Boston Consulting Group, which was one of the world’s top-three management consultancies. After two years, he entered a management consulting position to Bain & Company, hired personally by the head of the company, Bill Bain. Bain would later say of the thirty-year-old Romney in a New York Times article that Romney “had the appearance and confidence of a guy who was maybe ten years older.”

With Bain & Company, Romney learned the “Bain way”, which consisted of immersing the firm in each client’s business. In 1983, Bill Bain offered Romney the chance to head a new venture that would invest in companies and apply Bain’s management techniques to improve operations. In the face of doubt from potential investors, Romney and his partners spent a year raising the $37 million in funds needed to start the new operation, which had fewer than ten employees. Romney worked there turning around struggling businesses until 1984, when he co-founded Bain Capital, which became Bain’s private-­equity spin-off. When Bain ran into trouble in 1990, it asked Romney to become the CEO and restore the firm to financial health for the next two years. He continued at Bain Capital until he left to pursue a career in public service, eventually running the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

According to an article by Politicol News published in February 2012, Mitt Romney’s position as the President and CEO of the Winter Olympic Games is indicative of his lack of direction when it comes to budgeting and could be symptomatic of how he would act in office. Romney cites his running the Olympics as a success story when it was the federal government that came to the rescue with taxpayer dollars by injecting $600 million into the Olympic purse strings. “I led an Olympics out of the shadows of scandal,” he states in a Washington speech but he does not acknowledge the fact that the government bailed him out. Romney actually persuaded his friends in congress to give more money to cover the costs of the Olympics in his self-proclaimed turnaround of the endeavor.

Nonetheless, Romney parlayed his experience with the Olympics and translated it into politics when he was elected governor of Massachusetts in 2003. During Romney’s term as governor, he oversaw the reduction of a $3 billion deficit. Romney also signed into law a health care reform program to provide nearly universal health care for Massachusetts residents.

Shortly after failing to get the Republican nomination for the 2008 presidential election, Romney began a devising a strategy for the 2012 presidential campaign. He began building up a political infrastructure for what would become a $1 billion campaign. He formally announced his intention to run for presidency on June 2, 2011, while continuing to give speeches and raise campaign funds on behalf of fellow Republicans. His campaign slogan, “Believe in America”, was criticized heavily for being the same as one John Kerry used when he ran as the Democrats candidate, a Democrat who ran for president in 2004.

As explained in a piece in The Atlantic Magazine from December 2011, Mitt Romney cites his long-term relationship with the private sector as the reason why he understands “how jobs come to America and why they go. I’ve competed with companies around the world. I’ve learned something about how it is that economies grow. It’s not just simple—wave a wand and everything gets better.”

As job creation and the flailing economy have become a hot issue for candidates in the 2012 campaign, Mitt Romney is placing hopes on his background as a successful businessman to position him as the most qualified contender to jump-start the nation’s economy.  His frequent appearances before conservative groups and in the news media have given Romney multiple opportunities to seek conservative support after his unsuccessful campaign for the Republican nomination in 2008. During that bid, some conservatives were skeptical of his convictions. Romney’s leadership of Bain Capital was supposed to be the basis of his candidacy, something that would present him as an attractive alternative to a novice president struggling to right the economy. Instead, it has become a liability. It was inevitable that Mitt Romney’s involvement with Bain Capital as well as the staggering wealth he amassed with them would become a political issue at some point in 2012.

From the early stages of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, he has publicly criticized President Barack Obama’s record on job creation. He has taken many opportunities to paint the picture that Obama’s administration have made it more difficult for small businesses in this country, vowing extreme changes should he be elected in November 2012. “Small business has really felt like it’s been under attack over the past several years,” Romney told a crowd of local fishermen and residents on a pier in Portsmouth, New Hampshire during a televised speech. “If I become president of the United States, I am going to be a pro small business president and fight for the rights of small business people.” Acknowledging the recession contributed to a drop in small business startups, Romney placed a large portion of blame on President Obama’s policies, including an increase in regulations put in place by Washington. “Regulators are just multiplying like proverbial rabbits and making it harder and harder for enterprises to grow and to understand what their future might be,” Romney said.

Although his supporters believe his business background make him a more viable candidate, his detractors are highly skeptical of his track record and how it could translate into the future as the president of the country.  According to the Service Employees International Union, Mitt Romney:

  • Favors big corporations and businesses to receive higher tax breaks
  • Was responsible for keeping one of the worst job growth rates as the governor of Massachusetts while the national economy was thriving, ranking 47th out of all 50 states.
  • Accumulated vast sums of money made a fortune by acquiring companies and laying off thousands of workers.
  • Believes that workers should pay for their own unemployment benefits through individual savings accounts. Romney even said it’s an “indisputable fact” that extending jobless benefits only discourages people from finding employment
  • Proposes scaling back unemployment insurance costs by paying benefits for fewer weeks; similar to plans enacted by Tea Party governors such as Rich Scott (Florida) and Scott Walker (Wisconsin).
  • Vetoed $11 million in job training funds for employees

According to the article “Obama Seeks To Define Mitt Romney As Insensitive, Out Of Touch” by Jeff Mason published by The Huffington Post in April 2012, Obama’s campaign has worked steadily to construct an image of an insensitive and patrician Romney even before he wins the Republican nomination, hoping to create a caricature that sticks with voters once the election officially becomes a two-man race.  As pointed out by The Daily Hampshire Gazette, Romney’s net worth is up to a quarter million dollars would end up being one of the richest presidents elected into office. Romney has spent much of his campaign defending his personal wealth in the face of mounting criticism from the president and his re-election campaign as they work to paint the former businessman as out of touch with most Americans. “If we become one of those societies that attacks success, one outcome is certain – there will be a lot less success,” Romney said during a speech at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. “You’re going to hear a deafening cacophony of charges and counter-charges and my prediction is that by Nov. 6 most of you are going to be afraid to turn on your TV.”

As pointed out by Mark Maremont in “Romney at Bain: Big Gains, Some Busts”, an article published by the Wall Street Journal in January 2012 , the piece discusses the progress Mitt Romney has made on the trail and was quick to highlight how his rivals have sought to turn his Bain tenure against him. Rick Santorum, one of Romney’s early opponents, who dropped out of the race, was critical of his background. “We need someone who can talk and relate to folks battling in this economy, not someone talking about being a CEO of a company and making jokes about firing people,” Santorum said. Rick Perry ran an ad saying Mr. Romney “made millions buying companies and laying off workers.” Newt Gingrich has said Mr. Romney should “give back all the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain.”

Though Mitt Romney has beaten many of his fellow running mates and is the presumptive nominee, his campaign will have to work hard at making sure his business background connects to voters in a positive way. Voters will have to truly believe that Romney has not exaggerated his record and that he is not a wealthy elitist.

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Album Review: “My Life II…The Journey Continues (Act 1)” by Mary J. Blige

It’s a daunting task that musicians face as they age in the music industry: how to maintain relevancy without deviating too far away from their winning musical formula. Mary J. Blige, now 40, has cemented her legacy as one of the finest and revered vocalists in contemporary R&B, assuring her position as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul with her 1994 opus, My Life. That album, rife with wrenchingly emotional cuts like “Be Happy”, “You Gotta Believe”, “I’m The Only Woman”, has remained a favorite among her legion of fans, justifiably ranking as one of Blige’s best musical works. That record documented the essence of a young female in the midst of deep romantic longing, a struggle for comfort and a journey toward spiritual growth – a foundation she would expound on her subsequent albums. Its sequel, My Life II…The Journey Continues (Act 1), released on November 21, 2011 on Geffen/Matriarch is a perfection of the vintage sound one comes to expect from Blige. With production supplied by Rico Love, Danja, Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins and Jerry Wonda, among others, the record is split into two parts – bass heavy hip-hop and shimmering R&B ballads – both of which have become Blige’s signature.

After a brief intro featuring her former mentor Diddy, Blige quickly glides into “Feel Inside” and “Midnight Drive”, featuring the reprise of her rapper alter-ego, Brook-Lynn. Blige sounds assured, upbeat and most importantly, optimistic, even as she injects her classic style upon the tension and excitement in the lyrics to the respective tracks. “25/8”, weaved wonderfully around a Gamble & Huff sample, finds the siren exuberant, spirited and brimming with the confidence that new love can bring. The same buoyancy can be found on the Chaka Khan cover, “Ain’t Nobody”, a pulsing and synth-driven workout that will likely find great success in dance clubs and European markets.

Many R&B albums of late have featured guest appearances from other artists, resulting in a mixed bag of collaborations. Predictably, My Life II… continues that trend. While Nas adds his clever edge to the aforementioned “Feel Inside”, a Drake verse comes off as a forgettable and phoned-in addition to the album’s second single, “Mr. Wrong”. One of the strongest collaborations, however, is the heartfelt “Love a Woman”, where Beyoncé joins Mary to list instructions for male suitors to properly romance and treat their ladies on a track that wouldn’t sound out of place on a 90’s throwback playlist.

As the album is a collection of nostalgic moments with many of its roots stemming from the 90s, Blige reaches deep to produce some of her most impressive ballads she has fronted in years. “Empty Prayers” is a devastating slow number, regretting her hopeful naiveté for believing in an uncaring lover. “Need Someone”, resembling that of an understated country ballad with its hushed acoustics, is a hug to the younger and troubled Blige from 1994, examining the recurring theme in her string of dysfunctional relationships.

My Life II…The Journey Continues (Act 1) stretches Mary J. Blige artistically the way her last few albums promised and failed. Blige has made peace with her yesterdays and applied her learned lessons to good use.

Spotlight On: A Profile of Caitlin Henry

Caitlin Henry is sitting Indian-style in her desk in a college classroom. She peers closely into her MacBook while flexing her research skills on Google. Her piercing eyes are accented by Revlon eyeliner, her nails are neatly manicured and her hair is tied back, highlighting her face’s youthful glow. She is dressed comfortably in sweats and comes to class prepared, with many of her belongings featuring what is likely her favorite color – pink.

“Education is extremely important in my family,” explains the 21 year-old junior at SUNY College at Old Westbury. “My father always stressed that I need a good education to be successful. He’s one of the reasons I want to complete college.” Her motivation began early at home, but she admits college has its difficulties. “The worst aspect of college is the amount of work due. I have a job too so I have a tough time juggling them both.”

Growing up in Virginia until her parents divorced, Caitlin subsequently moved to Long Island with her mother and younger sister while her father remained in Virginia. “I see him every couple of months but I wish I was closer with him.”

Commuting from home in Massapequa to school, the Media and Communications major is wide-eyed to career possibilities after graduation. “Maybe public relations or something behind the scenes on television or movies. There’s about behind the scenes work really interests me. I just want career path that affords me an opportunity to support myself and my family,” she reveals.

Off campus, Caitlin is relatively simple and fun-loving young woman with depth and character. She speaks her sentences with confidence and charm and ends them with warm smiles. She stays active, maintaining fitness while indulging in favorites like fast food, and French onion soup and tequila. “Of course nothing healthy,” she quips jokingly.

While jotting down her lecture notes with a furious intensity, one easily notices one of her tattoos – “breathe” – on her right forearm. “I deal with anxiety,” she explains. “Sometimes, I think I overreact to certain situations and I have to remind myself to just breathe. Also, my dad’s youngest sister died of lung cancer about two years ago. I watched her suffer with her breathing a lot and it really made me realize you can’t take something as simple as breathing for granted.”

She looks to her future with great optimism. She dreams of traveling to Italy, Ireland and Australia. But above anything, Caitlin dreams of family life. “It’s so cliché, but being happy and having a family of my own. That’s what I dream of. If I have that, I think I’ll be happy.”

Categories: Michael Ashton

Floral Industry expecting a boost from Valentine’s Day shoppers

February 26, 2012 Leave a comment

(February 10th, 2012)

With Valentine’s Day being a few days away, floral companies are reporting sizable boosts in sales this year in the midst of a fractured economy. Florists are prepping for the holiday which will see a high  number of orders. The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, estimates that the average customer will spend nearly $126 on Valentine’s Day this year – an is an 8.5 percent increase from the $116.21 spent by the average person in 2011.

This year’s Valentine’s Day gives florists a great opportunity to generate sales. Because the holiday falls on a weekday, florists are likely to scan more fresh-flower purchases during the week. This gives extra time time for bigger, more elaborate rose and flower presentations to be made as well as deliveries to homes and offices. Nicole Vecchione, a sales manager at the Terranova Florist in Baldwin, New York says “classic red roses are the big sellers – most definitely. Red roses never go out of style. They run for about $75 to $80 for a single dozen. We get orders for complex arrangements as well as yellow and white roses, which are a little less costly. (Other types of flowers, like tulips for example, sell close to $40) The week before Valentine’s Day is always hectic. At the moment, we have a ton of orders for them all so we’re fairly busy getting our orders together before the holiday.”

Despite the downturn in the U.S. economy in recent years, Valentine’s Day has always maintained a veritable “Black Friday”-like status for the floral industry. According to AboutFlowers.com, an information resource on the floral industry, Valentine’s Day ranked as number one in regards to fresh flower purchases in 2011, capturing 36% of all holiday transactions as well as 40% of the holiday dollar volume. It is also the number one holiday for florists, beating out Christmas, Hanukah and Mother’s Day. Florists are expecting similar results in 2012.

Interestingly, while men tend to buy flowers for romantic reasons, women use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to express care and gratitude to mothers, daughters and friends in addition to their significant others. Additionally, they use Valentine’s Day to treat themselves to flowers, even if they are or aren’t involved with a mate.

Based on these predications Valentine’s Day should be a huge opportunity for you to turn romance into commerce.

Categories: Michael Ashton

What is it About Fame?

February 22, 2012 1 comment

What is it about fame? We all have these abstract ideas of what we think it is, but what exactly is it? Lord Byron, an English romantic poet and satirist, is quoted as saying that fame is “the advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing about, and for whom you care as little.” Is he right?

On some level, everyone wants to be known. We have all had the desire to receive glory, a “job well done” from their peers and the satisfying envious gaze from our “haters” as we meet prosperity. Most people will probably admit to swimming in fantasies about “living the good life” as a public figure, being on television, receiving awards and rubbing elbows with other influential people, all of this being a world away from the average humdrum of day-to-day life. As we grow older, we begin the process of narrowing down our range of boundless dreams to the goals that we feel are tangible and realistic to live out. Even still, we don’t underestimate what we can become or undermine – we just aspire to be the best versions of ourselves every day.

But what is the downside of fame? What makes it undesirable? What makes fame the antithesis of every fantasy that we’ve had? I think most public figures have or will express some level of discontentment with trading their privacy for celebrity life. We’ve seen it all played out with countless stars: depression, substance abuse, unending rumors and the inability to enjoy a private life. This includes increased scrutiny with having their lives played out for public discussion, be it good or bad. We tend to forget that their lives are just as imperfect as ours, although they have the added pressure of being a role model and motivator to their many viewers.

But we all know these things, right? Each human being is remarkable with their individual ability that will certainly leave a mark on the world. Dancing with the allure of being known to the world can romanticize the dizzying highs and leave out the deep lows. So, really…what is it about fame?

Proposed Documentary: “Here, My Dear”

January 6, 2012 1 comment

Documentary Project Proposal

Here, My Dear

Written, produced and directed by Michael Ashton

SYNOPSIS

In the United States, marriage and divorce are increasingly becoming common experiences. The former has carried a perceived of being one of the most positive aspects in life, whereas the latter is perceived to have a negative connotation.  Here, My Dear is a feature documentary thoroughly following the details of being in a marriage, the emotional journey of dissolving one and ultimately how both aspects impact children in various ways.

People marry for their own reasons ranging from legal and social to economic and religious reasons, as well as genuine love. In any case, marriage is considered to a milestone event in a spouse’s life that requires a number of adjustments. A couple beginning a union opens a chapter of togetherness into forever. Conversely, a spouse entering a divorce face a range of emotions such as (but not limited to) regret and stress to excitement and optimism. Although a divorce is irrefutably difficult for all, it is the children of the family who suffer the most. The idea that a couple can “stay together for the children’s sake” never seems to work out, often worsening the underlying issues, exacerbating tension and causing more harm than good to children who need the stability of both parents. Here, My Dear journeys to document all of these aspects and to find answers to the questions that people have about the struggles of family life.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND BACKGROUND

In the book The History of Human Marriage (1921), Edvard Westermark defines marriage as “a more or less durable connection between a male and female lasting beyond the mere act of propagation till after the birth of the offspring.” Marriages are typically recognized by the state, a religious power, or both. It is often seen as a contract or institution, irrespective of any religious affiliation but in accordance with marriage laws of the state.

As of late, almost one out of two marriages will end in divorce, many of which include one or more children. When children are involved, the immediate thought is how they will cope through this difficult period. Though the couple may be preoccupied with their quest to dissolve their union, the children are often invariably confused by how the security of their family life is now shaken. They may start to feel shame, assuming the fault that they somehow have caused their parent’s marriage (and their own stability) to crumble.

STYLE AND STRUCTURE

Here, My Dear is an observational documentary following lives in four separate arcs. It seeks to question why people get married, follow the dynamic of those that have stayed married, the emotions that come after a divorce and how children play an important factor.

Here, My Dear was named after legendary soul singer’s 1978 album of the same name, which documented his feelings about his crumbling marriage and subsequent divorce. Each story relates to a track from that album.

CHARACTERS

1. Oliver Sanchez

Anger destroys your soul. Rage, there’s no room for rage in there. Line up some place to go to be mad. It’s a sin to treat your body bad. (“Anger” by Marvin Gaye)

Oliver is an child from Lynbrook, New York. At age 11, he currently attends St. Agnes Elementary School in Rockville Centre, New York. He enjoys dance, television, science and math. Born to parents who divorced after less than five years of marriage (when Oliver was only four years old). He has a close relationship with his mother, while his relationship with his father has grown to be strained over the course of his childhood. His mother believes that his behavioral problems in school stems from being a product of divorced parents. Both parents argue often about finances for Oliver.

Interview Questions:

    1. Why do you think couples divorce?
    2. How many of your classmates have parents that are separated/divorced?
    3. Do you think your parents are better off being divorced or do you wish they were still married? Do you think they can resolve their differences?
    4. What do you think your parents think of each other now?
    5. Do your parents ask you how you feel about being an only child? Do they ask you about your feelings?
    6. How do you feel about your parents?
2. Michelle & Roger Benshoff
…cause when you look at me, I get weak in my knees. My heart won’t let me be. Won’t you help me please? I really love you. Darling, you’re so wonderful. You are so divine. You’re my heavenly dream. (“Time to Get It Together” by Marvin Gaye)
Michelle is a 5thgrade teacher from Brooklyn, New York. Roger is a train conductor for New York City transit. They have been happily married to each other for 25 years. Michelle is currently pursuing her second degree in education, while Roger is looking to start a small family business. The Benshoffs describe their marriage as “very happy and enduring” with “very, very few arguments”. She and her husband are committed to each other and to providing an excellent life for their two daughters (ages 29 and 24).
Interview Questions:
    1. What do you think has been the key to keeping such an enduring marriage?
    2. How many couples do you know that have been together as long as you have?
    3. How often do you have disagreements? How often do you make up?
    4. Can you reveal your weaknesses and doubts to your partner without fear of embarrassment, criticism or judgment?
    5. When you’re upset or angry about something your partner does/doesn’t do, do you find it easy to tell her/him about it?

3. Marcus & Nicole Baptist

Hey Anna, here’s your song. The one that I promised you all along. I knew all the time that I’d find the rhyme. Never have a fear, here it is, my dear. (“Anna’s Song” by Marvin Gaye.)

Nicole is a nurse and Marcus is an electrician engineer for New York University. The couple has been married for almost 25 years and has had two kids. They describe their marriage as “generally positive” while admitting that most of their hardships and arguing are centered on finances as Marcus feels they “are not completely secure enough to spend” the way they’d like to.

Interview Questions:

    1. How much will you spend on gifts for family, friends and each other?
    2. What hobbies or recreational pursuits do you pursue individually? Together? How often do you pursue them?
    3. How important is money to you both?
    4. Who will pay the bills and keep the checkbook? What are your reservations about the use of credit cards? When it comes to finances, do you usually agree on what to spend your money on?
    5. How often have you felt a lull in your marriage? Have you ever felt that divorce was eminent?
    6. Describe what keeps your marriage strong.

4. Jennifer Allen

(“You know, when you say your marriage vows, they’re supposed to be for real. I mean…if you think back about what you really said, you know, about, honor and loving and obeying till death do us part and all. But it shouldn’t be that way, it should…it it shouldn’t be lies because it turns out to be lies. If you don’t honor what you said, you lie to God. The words should be changed.” -“When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You?” by Marvin Gaye.)

Jennifer is a medical nurse who recently graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University. At 57, she filed for divorced from her husband of 22 years due to increased arguments and growing dissatisfaction. Early in the marriage, her husband fathered another child during an affair. After reconciliation and jointly putting three children through college over the years, a bitter divorce was put into motion that deeply affected her.

Interview Questions:

    1. When was the moment that you knew your marriage was over? Do you think there was anything else that could have saved it?
    2. What are your greatest memories? Regrets?
    3. How do you feel about your ex-spouse now? Are both of you on speaking terms?
    4. Though the youngest of your three children is 22 years old, how do you think the dissolution of your marriage has affected them?
    5. How do you feel about marriage now? Do you see it in your future? Why or why not?

RELATED WORK

The film “One Divided by Two: Kids and Divorce” is another film that describes the conflicted feelings that children aged 8 to 18 feel when their parents dissolve their marriage. It carries an original approach with the inclusion of animation to tell parts of the stories. It is an excellent discussion starter to help parents gain a bit of insight as to what their children are experiencing emotionally.

Here, My Dear will have a similar approach, but it will also include those who are married, those who struggle with marriage and those who have recently divorced.  The film seeks to cover the emotional journey that they all go on.

Review: “The Original Jill Scott from the Vault, Vol. 1” by Jill Scott

December 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Typically, a compilation release of unreleased material features unremarkable outtakes and half-finished demos with varied quality compared to that of an official studio record. The opposite proves to be true with The Original Jill Scott from the Vault, Vol. 1 by Jill Scott, the first (of hopefully, several) contractual fulfillment albums following her quiet departure from Hidden Beach Recordings and subsequent signing to Warner Bros. Records. Impressively, the tracks are unfailing and on par with every release in her revered catalog, likely due to her involvement in the song selection process. Unlike her uneven 2011 release The Light of the Sun which featured some formless and even half-baked compositions, The Original Jill Scott… is consistent, with some of the material being recorded as far back as the conception of her first album.

After a brief introduction, Jill flirts coyly on the bombastic and shuffling “I Don’t Know (Gotta Have You)” produced by Carvin & Ivan. In contrast, “Wondering Why (You Don’t Talk to Me)” finds Jill cooing with distress from miscommunication amid a mid-tempo track, complete with a gooey live bass line and background vocals by Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men for some additional color. The funky bounce of “The Light” (produced by Dre & Vidal, who also supply a “piano mix” of the track) and the Southern soul of “Wake Up Baby” both play off of Jill’s impeccable strengths as a versatile lyricist,while the breezy “I’m Prettier” and “Comes to the Light (Everything)” highlight her multi-textured vocals.

Two of the most exciting inclusions are found with “Running Away (Suite)”, a twelve-minute, seemingly free-styled studio jam is complete with adlibs, giggles and hollers from Jill and members of her band, all of whom perform to pleasurable perfection. The other, “Holding On”, is a slow burning torch masterpiece in which Jill mournfully envelops her voice around each instrument as she reminisces about her lover during the wee hours of an early morning.

The Original Jill Scott from the Vault, Vol. 1 may not get the attention it properly deserves from audiences but those who have followed Jill will have their perception of her musicianship and perfectionism enhanced by each of this compilation’s songs and their varying moods.