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(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ms. Lauryn Hill performs during the Twilight Concert series at Pioneer Park Thursday July 10, 2014.
Twilight opens with Lauryn Hill, wind and rain
First Published Jul 10 2014 10:50 pm • Last Updated Jul 11 2014 09:44 am

Wind, rain and smoke didn’t keep music fans from packing Pioneer Park on Thursday night to see Ms. Lauryn Hill.

The ’90s hip-hop, R&B artist kicked off the beginning of the 2014 Twilight Concert Series, drawing a diverse, but young crowd.

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Andrew Kopf, marketing and communications manager for the Salt Lake City Arts Council, said unless the weather turns dangerous, the concerts go on, rain or shine.

Hill performed to a crowded and excited group, though she had few interactions with her fans.

Staff member Jacoby Jacobsen said the Twilight crowds the last few years have increased tremendously, especially from what the show started with 27 years ago.

"It’s boomed, exploded and the numbers just keep rising. People love it," Jacobsen said.

Kopf and Jacobsen estimated Thursday’s attendance at 15,000.

Despite winds whipping up dirt and leaves around the venue, people continued to fill the park even after the opening set of Thundercat. And when they heard the beginning of Hill’s first song, they rushed to the front of the stage, most of them carrying beer in one hand from one of the eight beer and wine booths in the venue.

The entire half of the park was packed with people dancing to a blend of reggae, hip-hop and rap music.

Hill opened with a song from the Fugees, the three-person hip-hop group she started with in the early ’90s.

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She performed tracks from her only studio solo album, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill," including "To Zion" and "Lost Ones."

Bennett Purser traveled from Logan to see the show.

"I grew up listening to Lauryn Hill," the 23-year-old Utah State University student said. "She really was the pioneer of the music we listen to today — the blend of rap and hip-hop."

It’s been 16 years since the release of the landmark album, mixing R&B and hip-hop in a way that was fiercely feminist and commercially approachable. It sold an estimated 8 million copies in the United States, won her five Grammys and spawned the hit singles "Doo Wop (That Thing)," "Ex-Factor" and "Everything Is Everything."

Hill released a live album of new material in 2002, but it wasn’t as well-received. That was followed by statements expressing disillusionment with the music industry. She followed that with a long silence, punctuated by a three-month prison sentence in 2013 for income tax evasion.

The eclectic voice of the funk, blues bassist Thundercat opened the show for Hill, playing a variation of psychedelic rock, funk and smooth R&B. The bass player, singer-songwriter contributed to albums with experimental musician and producer, Flying Lotus, and thrash metal band, Suicidal Tendencies.

TV on the Radio is playing the next Twilight show on July 17 in Pioneer Park at 350 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City. Admission is $5 and gates open at 5 p.m. so patrons can grab dinner from various food trucks lining the lawn before the show begins at 7 p.m.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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