After performing on "The Voice" and nabbing a part in the documentary, "20 Feet from Stardom," background vocalist Judith Hill has really hit her stride. With a solo record on the way, Hill performs October 20th with Josh Groban at The United Center. Meanwhile, she spoke with Our Town about her music and a special moment she shared with Micheal Jackson.
Our Town How did you break into the business?
Judith Hill I studied music composition for four years at Biola University. Straight out of college, I landed my first background singing gig for French pop star, Michel Polnareff. My parents really played a big role in helping me get started as well. A lot of people knew of me because of my parents.
OT What would we be surprised to know about what it’s like to be a backup singer?
JH Background singing is a group effort. So, it takes practice and good blending to make a good sound. Oftentimes, if the section doesn't sound good, artists will just find a new section if they don't like the individual voices very well.
OT Can you share any unique experiences you’ve had singing backup?
JH When we were preparing for "this is it" with Michael Jackson, there was a time when the singers had to record some additional parts for the show. Because there were so many things to take care of, I helped edit and engineer some of the parts and got a chance to here the original background parts Michael recorded. It was very exciting.
OT How did you become involved with "20 Feet From Stardom?"
JH I met the director, Morgan Neville, when recording for Elton John and Leon Russell's record. Morgan was shooting some behind-the-scenes. Shortly after, he asked me to be a part of 20 feet. For a couple years, he followed me around with a camera and did interviews. When I finally saw the final product, I was blown away. I am so honored to be a part of this incredible documentary. It is so honest.
OT What was your experience like on "The Voice?"
JH It was a lot of fun! I had the opportunity to come up with different arrangements for cover songs. They gave me a lot of creative control which is great and rare for those type of shows. I also made a lot of great life-long friends.
OT How has it impacted your career?
JH It has opened a lot of doors. I landed opening act for Josh Groban and signed with Sony music as a result of the show. Also, lots of great gigs came my way. The show reaches so many people. I am shocked at how many people have stopped me in the street and said how they saw me on the show.
OT What can we expect from your debut solo release?
JH You can expect a lot of inspirational music and fun, upbeat songs. It's a pop/soul record so expect to hear classic renditions meet the modern world.
OT Will you have any time to sight see in Chicago? If so, what are you looking forward to?
JH I really hope I'll have some time to sight see. I really want to eat the pizza, roam through downtown, and go shopping.
Purchase tickets to see Hill and Groban on October 20th here.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by following facebook.com/OurTownBlog.ChicagoSunTimes and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez and Facebook.