Lauryn Hill Preps For Major U.S. Tour

Previously announced co-headliner D'Angelo not scheduled on 18-date trek through major markets.

Chart-topping singer/rapper Lauryn Hill has announced a series of

dates for her first U.S. tour away from her bandmates in the popular

rap act the Fugees.

The tour will hit major cities around the country.

Hill will kick off her tour Feb. 18 at the Fox Theatre in Detroit,

tour publicist Renee Pfeffer of Columbia Records said Thursday.

Hill then will play 16 theater-sized venues in cities including

Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

She wraps the tour with a final date April 1 in her home state,

New Jersey, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.

Asked if he had any advice for Hill on her first-ever solo tour,

legendary rapper Ice-T said Thursday (Dec. 3) he would only suggest

that the

songstress pace herself because every night is all on her.

"But I think

she's a vet already," Ice-T said, speaking from his L.A. office.

"She's been

on tour with the Fugees, she's been around the world. She's a

consummate

professional."

Hill will be touring to support her critically acclaimed solo-debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. In its first week of release in late August, the album sold 424,000 copies -- the highest one-week sales figure for a female solo artist since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991. The previous record-holder was pop-diva Madonna, for her electronica-influenced Ray of Light, which sold 371,000 copies during the sales week ending March 8.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill has sold more than 2 million copies since its release Aug. 25, spurred by the success of the single "Doo Wop (That Thing)" (RealAudio excerpt).

Earlier this year, it was announced by publicists for Hill and R&B singer D'Angelo that the duo had tentative plans to launch a co-headlining tour in the spring that would last through the summer. According to Pfeffer and a spokesperson for D'Angelo's Virgin Records label, D'Angelo currently is not scheduled to join Hill on this leg of her tour.

Neither had any information about the possibility of a Hill/D'Angelo tour kicking off sometime after Hill's April 1 homecoming show.

D'Angelo appears on the The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill tune "Nothing Even Matters." His next album, Voodoo, is due in stores in February.

Hill's solo debut was warmly received by other artists as well.

Fellow rapper/producer DJ Quik (a.k.a. David Blake) said last month

that Hill's album meant a lot to him. "That Lauryn Hill album has

really gotten inside me," he said, "especially that song 'Ex Factor.'

"I wrote 'Down Down Down' [from his recently released Rhythm-al-ism] about [an ex-love]," he continued, "but I think she really got it right with 'Ex Factor.' The whole album is really spiritual and has a real feeling to it that I think people have responded to. I know I sure did."

In interviews, Hill has said that the album took on some personal

issues, with songs such as "To Zion" addressing the birth of her

first child and "Lost Ones" (RealAudio excerpt) examining the sometimes treacherous world of the music industry.

"You know what really impresses me about Lauryn Hill?," Ice-T asked.

"Lauryn being a strong

black sister and dealing with cats like me who are Mr. Ice-T, Mr.

Sh--talker, she met me and showed me so much love and respect. She's a

really knowledgeable female; she understands that we all make up the

different facets of the ghetto."

Four musicians who worked on the LP filed a lawsuit Nov. 19 in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, alleging that Hill failed to give them proper writing and producing credits or pay them royalties for their work on Miseducation. The 14-count suit seeks unspecified damages for the plaintiffs, who claim Hill orally agreed to give them production credits and royalties and then violated the agreement after her advisors convinced her to do so.

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

Hill will prepare for the U.S. tour by making an appearance on the comedy show "Saturday Night Live" this weekend followed by a Monday performance at the Billboard Awards.

Near the end of January, she'll take a brief trek through Japan, playing Tokyo's famed Nippon Budokan Hall -- where power-power act Cheap Trick and folk-rock icon Bob Dylan recorded critically acclaimed live albums -- Jan. 21-22, the Kokusai Forum in Tokyo on Jan. 23 and the Osaka Castle in Osaka on Jan. 25.

Lauryn Hill Tour Dates:

Feb. 18; Detroit, Mich., Fox Theatre

Feb. 20; Chicago, Ill., Chicago Theatre

Feb. 22; St. Louis, Mo., Fox Theatre

Feb. 26; Kansas City, Mo., Midland Theatre

Feb. 27; Denver, Colo., Mammoth Events Center

Mar. 1; Las Vegas, Nev., House of Blues

Mar. 2; San Francisco, Calif., Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, Brooks Hall

Mar. 3; Oakland, Calif., Paramount Theatre

Mar. 5; Universal City, Calif., Universal Amphitheatre Hall

Mar. 10; Dallas, Texas, Bronco Bowl

Mar. 11; Houston, Texas, Bayou City Theatre

Mar. 13; Atlanta, Ga., Fox Theatre

Mar. 16; Washington, D.C., Constitution Hall

Mar. 21; Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland State University Convocation Center

Mar. 24; New York, N.Y., Theatre at Madison Square Garden

Mar. 28; Upper Derby, Pa., Tower Theatre

Mar. 31; Boston, Mass., The Wang Center For The Performing Arts

Apr. 1; Newark, N.J., New Jersey Performing Arts Center