Admittedly, the exotic wildlife took a little getting used to, says Grammy-winning jazz and R&B singer Jill Scott.
But she knew she was in for an unusual experience when she first touched down in the African republic of Botswana, where she recently filmed HBO’s hit miniseries “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” adapted from Alexander McCall Smith’s popular books.
In the capital of Gaborone, she recalls, “We were driving down the highway, which looks like the 101 in L.A., and suddenly all the traffic is stopped. We were trying to find out what was going on, but it was a zebra crossing — a herd of zebra was actually crossing the highway, and I was like ‘You have got to be kidding me!’”
Scott — who plays Concord on Friday — may have a chart-topping hit with her new album. “The Light of the Sun,” and its soulful smash “So In Love,” featuring Anthony Hamilton. But in Botswana, she’s so popular she has her own postage stamp.
Whenever she returns to Gaborone, locals always greet her not as Jill Scott, but as Mma “Precious” Ramotswe, her case-solving “Agency” character.
She has learned to brake for ostriches, too, she says, “because they also travel in packs, so you really have to pay attention when you’re behind the wheel.”
Scott was stunned by the country’s panoramic Kalahari-desert skies and nightly meteor showers.
Only one aspect of Botswana proved difficult: its insects.
“I ran into stuff I’ve never seen in my life, bugs that made me go, ‘What is that?’” says the part-time actress, whose powerful poetry readings earned her an audition with “Agency” executive producer, Anthony Minghella.
“There were white, 4-inch-long grasshoppers that are attracted to the light, and they fly and hit you in the face. Hard. So shooting at night, the bugs were always hitting me, one after another.”
Almost simultaneously, however, Scott found herself embroiled in a lawsuit with her old label Hidden Beach, and breaking off her engagement to the father of her son Jett, Lil’ John Roberts.
And now? She lost more than 60 pounds and scripted her fourth CD as an uplifting note to self.
“I describe it as being in your own house, but completely in the dark, and you have to feel around to find your way to the door, but once you open it, the sun is out,” she says.
Visiting Botswana always cheers Scott up. “That’s the only time I ever use snail mail,” she says. “I throw my stamps on envelopes and mail them everywhere, and write ‘hi!’ on the inside. Like, I’m alive! I have a stamp! And it’s incredible!”
IF YOU GO
With Anthony Hamilton, Mint Condition and DJ Jazzy Jeff
Where: Sleep Train Pavilion, 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $38.75 to $171.75
Contact: (800) 745-3000; www.livenation.com