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Joy Keys chats with Singer Judith Hill

  • Broadcast in Music
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Gutsy and nuanced as a vocalist, and an accomplished songwriter, arranger, and pianist as well, Judith Hill is likely the only musician who can cite Elton John, Spike Lee, Prince, and Michael Jackson among those who have sought out her talent. One of the highest-profile background singers of her generation, she got her start in the early 2000s, and in the next decade established a solo career with the soundtrack to Lee's Red Hook Summer (2012). Since making these strides, she has built a discography of increasingly refined and creative albums that includes the Prince-produced Back in Time (2015), followed by Golden Child (2018) and Baby, I'm Hollywood! (2021), all while continuing her work in support of other artists. Hill starred in the Academy Award- and Grammy-winning 20 Feet from Stardom, the documentary film showcasing the under-acknowledged work of backup singers.

Judith Hill earned a degree in music composition from Biola University, near her native Los Angeles. During the 2000s, she stockpiled background vocalist credits on releases by the likes of Anastacia, Robbie Williams, Evelyn "Champagne" King, and Rod Stewart. In 2009, she was selected to duet with Michael Jackson on "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" during the This Is It concerts, and performed at the King of Pop's memorial service, where she took the spotlight for "Heal the World." During the next few years, Hill continued to work in a background capacity for Elton John, Gregg Allman, and Barry Manilow, to name only a fraction of her connections.

Hill co-wrote Iggy Azalea's Jennifer Hudson collaboration "Trouble." "Party Rockers," which Hill wrote and fronted for Gordon Goodwin's Big Phat Band, was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Arrangement, Instruments, and Vocals.

 

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