Judith Hill, vocalist
Having literally spent her life immersed in music, Judith Hill has long been on a path towards capturing the depth and breadth of her artistic vision. Her remarkable journey has taken the gifted singer/songwriter/musician to stages all over the planet, both as solo performer as well as alongside such icons as the late, great Michael Jackson. A richly emotive vocal stylist and virtuosic piano player, Hill has spent much of the past two years carefully crafting her own imaginative music and fashion-forward persona.
Musically minded from the start, Hill penned her first song at just four years old. No surprise, considering that the Los Angeles-native grew up in such an intensely musical household – her father, Robert “Pee Wee” Hill is a pioneering funk bassist known for his work with such artists as Sly Stone, Jimmy Smith, and Bob Dylan, while her mother, Michiko Hill, is accomplished keyboardist in her own right, with credits including Rufus w/Chaka Khan, Wayne Shorter, and Billy Preston. In addition to their steady session work, the Hills also own and operate Master’s Crib Recording Studio, which served as a genuinely motivating playground for Judith.
Hill fell in love with the sounds of funk, jazz, and soul, with a special fondness for gospel, especially from a vocal standpoint – Aretha Franklin, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, The Winans. She rebelled against her mother’s piano lessons in her tween years but soon came back around. She pursued a degree in music composition at Biola University, where she wrote her first symphony as well as pieces for piano, vocal groups, chamber ensembles and string quartets.
After graduation, Hill spent a year in Paris, singing background vocals for legendary French singer/songwriter Michel Polnareff. She returned home and began writing and recording songs, sharpening her performance chops at open mic nights. But fate threw her a curveball when a musician friend told her that Michael Jackson was looking for background singers and asking if he could submit her name for the gig. Hill agreed, and to her surprise, found herself with the job.
When Michael Jackson passed away in 2009 during rehearsals for the “This Is It” tour, Hill was asked to sing at Jackson’s public memorial. Watched by one billion fans around the world, the service’s emotional crescendo came from Hill’s powerfully poignant performance of “Heal The World,”
Judith Hill spent much of 2011 traveling the world in partnership with Avon Cosmetics, serving as spokesperson and star of their worldwide Avon Believe World Tour, which celebrated the company’s 125th anniversary. Her voice has been heard in a range of films, including Sex & The City 2, Happy Feet 2, and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. Filmmaker Spike Lee invited her to contribute a suite of original songs to his upcoming film, Red Hook Summer, slated for release in summer 2012 after premiering at the annual Sundance Film Festival.