Lauryn Hill made a rare late-night TV appearance Thursday when she stopped by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to perform a show-stopping rendition of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.” Hill’s version of the blues classic begins slowly and sultry before picking up its pace; by the three-minute mark, it’s an all-out rave-up. For the impressive performance, Hill was backed by a string section, horns, three singers, a meaty rhythm section and blues guitarist Eric Gales, who wails on an upside-down righty Fender like Jimi Hendrix.
“Feeling Good” was among Hill’s contributions to the Nina Revisited: A Tribute to Nina Simone compilation, a companion piece to the Netflix documentary What Happened, Miss Simone. Hill contributed six Simone tracks to the compilation: “Ne Me Quitte Pas,” “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” “Wild Is the Wind,” “African Mailman” and “I’ve Got Life,” an interpolation of “Ain’t Got No, I Got Life.”
“Because I fed on this music, both hers and lovers like her, like my basic food, I believed I always had a right to have a voice,” Hill previously said of working on the Simone compilation. “Her example is clearly a form of sustenance to a generation needing to find theirs. What a gift.”
The Tonight Show visit was Hill’s first late-night TV performance in four years; she stopped by Late Night With Jimmy Fallon in 2011 to cover Bob Marley’s “Chances Are” and “Could You Be Loved” as part of that show’s weeklong tribute to the reggae legend and the late father of Hill’s former partner Rohan Marley.