NEWARK, N.J. — Eight-time Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill pleaded guilty Friday to not paying federal taxes on more than $1.5 million earned over three years.
Appearing in U.S. District Court in Newark, Hill admitted failing to file tax returns from 2005 to 2007. She faces a maximum one-year sentence on each of the three counts. She was charged three weeks ago.
Dressed in a dark jacket, white button-up shirt and a long reddish-orange skirt, Hill declined to comment after Friday's hearing. During the hearing, attorney Nathan Hochman indicated that Hill planned to pay back the taxes she owes.
U.S. Magistrate Michael Shipp initially scheduled sentencing for early October but agreed to delay it until late November to give Hill time to make repayment.
Hill admitted she didn't pay taxes on about $818,000 earned in 2005, $222,000 in 2006 and $761,000 in 2007. The money was earned by four corporations she owned.
The 37-year-old South Orange resident got her start with The Fugees and began her solo career in 1998 with the critically acclaimed album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill."
She then largely disappeared from public view to raise her six children, five of whom she had with Rohan Marley, the son of famed reggae singer Bob Marley.
After the charges were brought, Hill posted a long statement on her Tumblr page that decried pop culture's "climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism." She explained that she hasn't paid taxes since she withdrew from society to guarantee the safety and well-being of herself and her family.
Hill hinted Friday that she might expand on those comments at her sentencing. When Shipp asked her if anyone had directly or indirectly influenced her decision to plead guilty, she replied, "Indirectly, I've been advised my ability to speak out directly is for another time, at sentencing." -- (AP)
Grammy Award-winning artist and producer Wyclef Jean has taken a recurring role in the new ABC drama "Nashville," airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m. The rapper, singer and politician, formerly a member of The Fugees with Lauryn Hill and Pras Michel, will play the head of a music label.
Jean announced the casting on via Twitter, posting a photo of himself with what he called the hottest cast on TV, featuring co-stars Sam Palladio (Gunnar Scott), Clare Bowen (Scarlett O'Connor) and Jonathan Jackson (Avery Barkley).
For Jean, the casting marks his latest on-screen role following his stint as Marcel Hollis on "Third Watch" (2005), in addition to work on soundtracks for "Glee" and "30 Rock." His work as a musician with The Fugees garnered two Grammy Award,s including "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal" for "Softly with His Song" (1996) and "Best Rap Album" for "The Score" (1996).
"Nashville," starring Connie Britton, follows the on-and-offstage drama of Rayna Jaymes, the reigning "Queen of Country." However, after two decades on top, her crown is losing its luster. She refuses to be "steamrolled" by her record label as they present a new arrangement, and in the face of an evolving industry, Rayna is struggling to adapt and reinvent herself, which she must do if she plans to stay relevant.
As she attempts to do just that, she is being pressed by the pretty, sexy and young Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), who is the country's #1 crossover artist. Talented but troubled Juliette's public image is threatened by "circumstances she struggles to control," and while she is determined to sit on Rayna's throne, Julliette refuses to deal with her difficult past. In the role of Coleman Carlisle, Robert Wisdom, formerly of "The Wire," rounds out the cast.
The Hollywood Reporter contributed to this report.
MIAMI — Anyone who needs to catch up with hip-hop star Wyclef Jean just has to refresh his Twitter feed.
“You know I’m direct about everything,” says Jean, 42.
Some things need more than a tweet to explain, though, so Jean has written an autobiography, “Purpose” (It Books) on sale Tuesday, that explores his political, financial and personal turmoil, including an extramarital affair with fellow Fugee Lauryn Hill.
The book opens with Jean hearing the news that a catastrophic earthquake has struck Haiti, the Caribbean country where he was born. The Grammy-winning multimillionaire returned home the next morning, trying to make sense of the chaos and overwhelming loss of life.
He kicked his Yele Haiti Foundation into overdrive to help survivors, and the urgency to get Haitians back to work drove Jean to announce his candidacy during Haiti’s 2010 presidential elections.
Both efforts, though, eventually left him reeling from criticism over his methods and motives. His presidential campaign was cut short, while Yele faced allegations of financial improprieties that benefited the singer.
In his book, Jean dismisses the problems at Yele as complications of a small charity’s sudden growth. After a restructuring, Jean writes, “We are a completely transparent organization and I invite the world’s curiosity.”
In a conversation with The Associated Press, Jean compares those setbacks with the success he achieved with the Fugees, whose second album “The Score” remains one of the best-selling hip-hop records of all time.
AP: Do you think you’re going to run for president of Haiti again in a couple years?
Jean: (chuckling) ... Keep in mind, right, that y’all always say “my run for the presidency” but there’s something you all must add — Wyclef never even got a chance to run for the presidency. It was sort of like, before I could even spit out who my technicians are, what are my policies, it was like, “Yo, this guy don’t have no technicians, this guy don’t have no policies, he’s not running, get him out!” Right now, it’s definitely, like, not in the focus.
AP: How was working on a book different from working on an album?
Jean: It takes you back to a place and to a time. I always tell people, the easiest thing for me in the book was talking about the Fugees. Because, you know, you’re young, you’re rock and roll. The hardest thing in the book was probably talking about my relationship with my dad. Growing up in a Christian household and then defying that and saying I’m going to be a rapper, and after they bring you from Haiti and the expectations, what they expect from you, and the fact that he never really came to my shows. ...
AP: The book brings up some of your personal drama (extramarital affairs, including an on-again, off-again relationship with Hill) and your wife in the books comes off as being one of the most patient people in the world. What was her reaction to the book?
Jean: The main thing about me is, I’m just bluntly honest, you know what I mean? It’s like, I’m a man. Beyond my book, it’s in my music. If I’m going through something, you’ll hear it in my music. Like, if you’ve heard “The Carnival” — “To all the girls I’ve cheated on before, it’s a new year ... I’m in love with two women, who is it going to be now?” This is not (something) I waited like 20 years later to be like, boom. I just basically stated the stuff that happened when it happened. ... They say, what’s the secret? I say, first, the person I was trying to be with had to be a friend first, and clearly I would say that’s how we made it through.
AP: Was there any kind of bitterness when ex-Fugee Pras Michel came out and supported Haitian musician-turned-politician Michel Martelly instead of you early in your so-called run for the president?
Jean: No. ... There’s a clear line, you know, between music and politics. And if you decide that you’re going to be a political candidate or run for that, then you have to have (what are called in Haitian Creole) “iron pants.” You basically have to be ready for everything to come at you, and whatever you expect, expect different. ... As you can see, it was a lot of people coming at me, so that tells me a lot about myself, you know what I mean — my strengths, and what I possess. I always say, you come at me, I only weigh a buck-seventy-five, but you’re coming after what created me and you’re going to have a lot on your hands, because that’s God. — (AP)
Hip-hop star Wyclef Jean opens his autobiography in his New York music studio, working on a rap for the alter ego he created to tell the gritty stories about life on Haiti’s toughest streets. The music stops abruptly when he notices the headline crawling across the screen of a muted TV — a catastrophic earthquake had struck his Caribbean homeland.
In “Purpose: an Immigrant’s Story” (It Books), co-written with music journalist Anthony Bozza, the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake that leveled Haiti’s capital is one of two phenomena with the power to focus the ex-Fugees frontman’s scattered energy.
The other is Lauryn Hill.
The Haiti-born, Brooklyn-raised Jean tells a familiar immigrant story about living in poverty and trying to fit into American culture. Rap was the language that gained him respect with the Black Americans who mocked his Caribbean accent and parents’ strict ways.
Episodes of rebellion, petty crime and diverse musical commitments build to Jean’s introduction to Hill through Pras Michel and the birth of the Fugees. Their entanglements take up the bulk of the book, but neither the Fugees nor Jean and Hill’s tumultuous relationship survived the success of their 1996 masterpiece, “The Score.”
Jean skims over much of his post-Fugees recording career and work in Haiti, including an unsuccessful run for president there in 2010 and the financial scandals that plagued his Yele Haiti Foundation. The Grammy-winning multimillionaire’s story is strongest when he’s focused on his passions: music and serving as an inspiration for Haitians aspiring to follow his path from a hut to a mansion. — (AP)
NEWARK, N.J. — Grammy-winning singer Lauryn Hill stood in federal court Monday and compared her experience in the music business to the slavery her ancestors endured before a judge sentenced her to three months in prison for failing to pay about $1 million in taxes over the past decade.
"I am a child of former slaves who had a system imposed on them," Hill said before U.S. Magistrate Madeline Cox Arleo. "I had an economic system imposed on me."
Hill, who started singing with the Fugees as a teenager in the 1990s before releasing her multiplatinum 1998 album "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," pleaded guilty last year to failing to pay taxes on more than $1.8 million earned from 2005 to 2007. Monday's sentencing also took into account unpaid state and federal taxes in 2008 and 2009 that brought the total earnings to about $2.3 million.
Despite having paid more than $900,000 in the past several days, Hill still owes interest and penalties, the U.S. attorney's office said.
In a forceful but controlled statement to the judge punctuated by occasional raps with her first on the podium, Hill described how she failed to pay taxes during a period when she'd dropped out of the music business to protect herself and her children, who now number six.
She said the treatment she received while she was in the entertainment business led to her decision to leave it.
"There were veiled threats, there was blacklisting," she said, without giving specifics. "I was told, 'That's how it goes, it comes with the territory.' I came to be perceived as a cash cow and not a person. When people capitalize on a persona, they forget there is a person in there."
In addition to serving three months in prison, Hill must pay a $60,000 fine. After she is released from prison, she will be under parole supervision for a year, the first three months of which will be spent under home confinement.
The 37-year-old South Orange resident had faced a maximum sentence of one year each on three counts of failing to file taxes. Her attorney had sought probation, arguing that Hill's charitable works, her family circumstances and the fact she paid back the taxes she owed should merit consideration.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Moser acknowledged Hill's creative talent and work on behalf of impoverished children but called Hill's explanation for her actions "a parade of excuses centering around her feeling put upon" that don't exempt her from her responsibilities.
"She wasn't interested in all those years in paying what she owed," Moser told the judge.
At the time of her arrest last year, Hill wrote a criticism rejecting pop culture's "climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism."
"Over-commercialization and its resulting restrictions and limitations can be very damaging and distorting to the inherent nature of the individual," Hill wrote. "I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns! I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival."
Hill is to report to prison by July 8. It's not clear where she'll serve her sentence. She didn't comment after the sentencing.
She said in a recent post online that she has signed a recording contract with Sony.
"She is looking forward to putting her case behind her and getting back to her music and creating again," attorney Nathan Hochman said. -- (AP)