Hill to Bring 'Funky, Upbeat' Show to State Theatre
Vocal stylist Judith Hill will take to the stage at 8 p.m. on Nov. 1 at The State Theatre. Writing music since the age of 4, Hill has appeared on NBC’s The Voice, has toured and sang backup with the late Michael Jackson, performed background music with Stevie Wonder, and will contribute to Morgan Neville’s upcoming film “20 Feet From Stardom,” which tells the true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musicians of the 21st century, according to The State Theatre.
Today, Hill is on tour with singer and songwriter Josh Groban, and in addition to her State College appearance this coming Friday, she has performed in more than 20 cities in the past month.
“We’ve been all over,” she said.
Hill’s Nov. 1 performance at The State Theatre will include some original songs as well as some cover songs, she said.
She said her show, which will include her entire band, will be inspirational, funky, upbeat and interactive.
“It’s a really fun show,” she said.
Gazette staff writer Marjorie S. Miller was able to chat with Hill Monday afternoon:
You started writing music at the age of 4. How did you become interested in music, and how has your craft developed throughout your life?
“My parents were both musicians,” Hill said. “At an early age I was singing and playing the piano.”
Hill said her parents had a studio in their home, so she was always surrounded by talented musicians.
“I had a really rich background,” she said.
In addition to a few soundtracks on “20 Feet From Stardom” including “Desperation,” the Los Angeles-based musician said she plans to have her first solo album out next year.
How would you describe your music? Where does your inspiration come from?
“I’m definitely a soul singer,” Hill said.
She said a lot of her musical inspiration comes from her early days, when she listened to Motown music and Aretha Franklin.
Today a lot of her inspiration comes from classical music, musicians such as Barbara Streisand and Ray Charles, and new artists, such as Adele.
“I love to have a lot of different flavors and textures of world music,” Hill said. “(And to) celebrate different cultures.”
Describe what it was like being on season 4 of The Voice.
“It was a really great experience,” she said.
Hill said being on the reality television singing competition gave her a chance to connect with a lot of different people, as well as get a grip on her personal music style
“You learn a lot about what kind of artist you are,” she said.
Hill said the show was also a great opportunity to develop a fan base and to learn what type of record to put out.
Touring with Michael Jackson must have been a meaningful experience. Describe what it was like getting to know Jackson, and what he taught you about music.
Hill said her time with Jackson was short-lived, since she was with him for his last tour, “This Is It,” before his passing in June 2009.
Those two months, she said, were a “beautiful experience.”
“He was such an inspiration,” she said.
Hill describes her time with Jackson as both a “bittersweet memory” and a “highlight in life.”
She said what was most memorable to her was seeing Jackson have dreams and visions for his show, and then watching them come to life.
“(He taught me) how to have a vision … and make that come alive,” she said.
Jackson’s inspiration ran deep, she said, which encouraged her to challenge herself to go deeper to find her own visions.
With your upcoming show at The State Theatre and your current tour, what do you want both fans and strangers to know about you as your career progresses?
“I love to bring classic soul … elements and music into the modern pop world,” she said.
Hill said she was a composer first, so she wants people to also experience that part of her music.
She additionally wants people to see her passions for human rights and peace, and how they are portrayed in her work, she said.
“I hope that my music eventually becomes a platform for that,” she said.