Lawsuits Plague Chart-Topping Divas Jewel, Lauryn Hill

Former manager goes after folk-pop singer/songwriter; studio musicians sue Fugees singer/rapper.

Folk-pop singer/songwriter Jewel and R&B singer/rapper Lauryn Hill both may soon be in court to defend their integrity as artists and professionals.

Jewel's former manager and a quartet of musicians who worked on Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album have filed separate lawsuits against the chart-topping divas.

In a suit filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Inga Vainshtein charges Jewel Kilcher and her mother, Lenedra Carroll, with wrongful termination, breach of written contract and interference with contractual relations, according to an Associated Press report.

In the suit, Vainshtein reportedly alleges that Carroll induced Jewel, whom Vainshtein had managed for five years, to fire her and, by doing so, breached Vainshtein's personal services contract with the singer.

The suit asks for $10 million in compensatory and punitive damages and an accounting of Jewel's profits, alleging that the singer's mother suggested Jewel fire her so that Carroll could collect the commissions on Jewel's earnings that were going to Vainshtein, AP reported.

Representatives for Atlantic Records, Jewel's label, did not return calls for comment. The artist's second album, Spirit, featuring the single "Hands" (RealAudio excerpt), was just released. It currently is at #3 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

Meanwhile, four musicians filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey on Nov. 19, against Lauryn Hill -- a member of the rap group Fugees -- alleging that she failed to give them proper writing and producing credits or pay them royalties for their work on her smash hit Ruffhouse/Columbia solo album, The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill. The 14-count suit seeks unspecified damages for the plaintiffs: Vada Nobles, Johari Newton, Tejumold Newton, and Rasheem Pugh.

Also named as defendants in the suit are Sony/ATV Tunes A&R executive Suzette Williams, Ruffhouse Records, Columbia Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony/ATV Tunes and marketing executive Jayson Jackson, who is identified in the suit as an advisor to Hill.

As the credits on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill stand now, Nobles is listed as drum programmer or co-drum programmer on Hill's hit single, "Doo Wop (That Thing)" (RealAudio excerpt), "Lost Ones," "Ex Factor," "Light My Fire," "When It Hurts So Bad," "Forgive Them Father" and "Everything is Everything."

Johari Newton is credited with playing guitar on "Lost Ones" (RealAudio excerpt) and "When It Hurts So Bad," while Tejumold Newton is acknowledged as the piano player on "Ex Factor" and Pugh is noted as a background vocalist on "Doo Wop (That Thing)."

According to plaintiffs' attorney Peter Harvey, Hill was friends with Nobles and Pugh before the critically acclaimed album was recorded.

Harvey alleged that the singer approached the duo about helping her develop a sound of her own after fellow Fugees member Wyclef Jean released his solo album, The Carnival, in 1997. The duo then brought in the twin Newton brothers, Harvey said, and the group worked for eight months to put together songs for the album.

"These four young men co-wrote and co-produced 14 songs on Ms. Hill's album," Harvey said, "and before they began the work they had an oral agreement with Ms. Hill that they would share writing and production credit and royalties equal to what they contributed."

The suit contends that, at some point, Hill's advisors convinced her not to credit the work of the four men and to cut them out of their share of royalties.

"This case isn't about money," Harvey said. "It's about receiving proper credit for the substantial amount of creative work my clients did on this critically acclaimed album. This is big-time stuff here, and she's parading around, representing to the world that she wrote and produced the whole album by herself."

Calls for comment to all the plaintiffs named in the suit were not returned by press time.

In a Billboard story about the suit, a spokesperson for Hill is quoted as saying, "This claim is without any merit whatsoever. They were appropriately credited for their contribution on the album. This is an attempt to take advantage of [Hill's] success."

No court dates have been set yet in either case.