The Ultimate Duo: Judith Hill and Josh Groban

When we interviewed Judith HIll for our Fall 2013 issue, we knew right then and there that she was a force to be reckoned with.

“The first song I [ever] wrote was a gospel song called ‘God Has Made,’” remembers Judith Hill. The singer/songwriter was only 4 at the time, but she still has a recording of it. “It goes, ‘God has made / the birds and the bees,’” she sings, laughing. “It’s pretty bad singing, but I guess for a 4-year-old, it’s not that bad.”

Already discovering her passion at the age of four, the 29-year-old went on to do amazing things. She was chosen by Michael Jackson to be his duet partner for his “This Is It” comeback tour and quickly became a fan favorite during her time on The Voice. Now, she has another achievement to add onto her list.

We weren’t the only ones to notice the amazing skills of this half-Japanese singer. The multi-platinum-selling singer, songwriter and actor Josh Groban decided to join forces with Hill who has been praised by Rolling Stone for having ”stellar powerhouse vocals.” 

Hill has been opening for Groban’s “In The Round” tour. Additionally, Hill joins Groban for two songs: “The Prayer” and “Remember When It Rains.”

Already, audiences can’t get enough of the duo. One youtube viewer commented, “This is beautiful. Both of you have very powerful voices. Josh you get better every time you sing this. Good luck on the next tour tomorrow.”

 

 

The tour has only gone on for a few days, but the duo has already been showered with praise and compliments. Make sure you don’t miss this breath-taking tour!

 

 

Judith Hill – Fall 2013 Tour Dates

 All dates are supporting Josh Groban unless otherwise noted. Additional headline dates to be announced.

October

2 – Boise, ID @ Taco Bell Arena 
3 – Portland, OR @ McMenamins Crystal Ballroom (headline show)
4 – Seattle, WA @ KeyArena
6 - Sacramento, CA @ Sleep Train Arena
7 - San Jose, CA @HP Pavilion at San Jose
9 - Phoenix, AZ @ US Airways Center
11 - Salt Lake City, UT @ EnergySolutions Arena
13 - Las Vegas, NV @ MGM Grand Garden Arena
15 – Denver, CO @ The Soiled Dove Underground (headline show)
16 - Kansas City, MO @ Sprint Center
17 – St. Louis, MO @ Lumiere Place Casino & Hotel (headline show)
19 - Minneapolis, MN @ Target Center
20 - Chicago, IL @ United Center
22 - Grand Rapids, MI @ Van Andel Arena
23 - Detroit, MI @ The Palace of Auburn Hills
25 - Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre
27 - Montreal, QC @ Bell Centre
28 - Boston, MA @ TD Garden
30 - Newark, NJ @ Prudential Center

November

1 – State College, PA @ State Theater (headline show)
2 - Pittsburgh, PA @ CONSOL Energy Center
3 - Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center   
4 – Annapolis, MD @ Rams Head On Stage (headline show)
6 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ BB&T Center
8 - Tampa, FL @ Tampa Bay Times Forum
9 - Orlando, FL @ Amway Center
12 - Houston, TX @ Toyota Center
13 – Dallas, TX @ American Airlines Center

December

4 – San Francisco, CA @ San Francisco War Memorial Opera – Glide Holiday Celebration

Judith Hill is Preparing To Release Her Debut Pop, Funk & Soul Album

The Japanese-African American singer who won over TV audiences with her performances on NBC’s The Voice is preparing to release her debut pop, funk and soul album. Story by Ada Tseng.

“The first song I [ever] wrote was a gospel song called ‘God Has Made,’” remembers Judith Hill. The singer/songwriter was only 4 at the time, but she still has a recording of it. “It goes, ‘God has made / the birds and the bees,’” she sings, laughing. “It’s pretty bad singing, but I guess for a 4-year-old, it’s not that bad.”

Now 29, Hill has been recording albums with her parents, both professional musicians, since she was a kid. Her mother, a Japanese American classical pianist, and her father, an African American bass player, met while playing in The Chester Thompson Band, a funk band in the ’70s. Rufus and Sly and the Family Stone were regulars in the Hill household.

AD lucky strike

Judith Hill made a name for herself when she was chosen by Michael Jackson to be his duet partner for his “This Is It” comeback tour, originally scheduled for 2009. When Jackson passed away prematurely, Hill sang a memorable rendition of “Heal the World” at his televised memorial. In the next few years, Hill performed internationally, recorded a song with Japanese American singer Ai, composed songs for Spike Lee’s film Red Hook Summer, and sang back-up for Stevie Wonder — keeping busy, but not quite ready to step back into the mainstream spotlight.

When she decided to audition for NBC’s The Voice in 2013, Hill was aware of the stigma of entering a prime time TV singing competition.

“In the beginning, whenever I told people that I was going on The Voice, they were like ‘What are you doing?’” says Hill. “At first, I felt that way about reality shows too, but then I looked at it objectively. In this day and age, the music business has changed so much, and we, as artists, have to find different ways to get ourselves out there. And television is the strongest thing right now.”

Most importantly, Hill wanted to show the world her artistry. To prepare for her audition, a cover of Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants,” she jammed with her mom at the piano until she discovered how to make the song her own.

“The original melody is very percussive, and I basically took the lyric and created my own soulful melody,” says Hill. “Then I sang the chorus as everyone knows it, and I knew that was what was going to sell it. As a soul singer, I have to have the freedom to play, so that’s why I slowed it down and loosened up the phrases and melodies. Then that’s when my voice shines the most.”

This type of musicality ended up defining Hill’s signature style on the show, whether she was in her comfort zone covering Nina Simone’s jazzy “Feeling Good“ or completely transforming songs such as Will.i.Am’s up-tempo “#thatpower.”

While reality shows can come across as packaged, Hill was pleasantly surprised at how much freedom she was given to compose her covers each week. “I had almost 100 percent creative control,” she says. “That’s what made it so good. The music department really respected me, so I was able to bring in my arrangements and charts, give it to the band, and they played it exactly how I wanted them to play it.”

Hill, a lover of fashion, was also able to work with the wardrobe department to make sure the visuals of her performance had the same knockout quality as her vocals. Because of these supportive collaborations, even after her much-contested elimination after her Top 8 performance, Hill emerged from the show more confident as she moves forward with plans to release her debut solo album.

“The stylist from The Voice really helped me understand myself more,” says Hill. “There’s something I love about looking elegant but also edgy, and I think this describes my music, too. All my music is a very classic soul sound, but it’s also edgy with the funk, the dance music, and the ethnic sounds. There’s also something about coming onstage with a fierce, exotic and high-fashion look that helps empower me. It’s a part of who I am and what I love.”

This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here

The Voice’s Judith Hill dishes about her style

Judith Hill: Those are my own clothes! I actually found that fringe at a store in Sherman Oaks. It’s a fun, poppy, nice introduction. Because it was my first performance on The Voice, I wanted people to know that I’m into fashion, textures and patterns.

 

The Voice - Season 4

Judith Hill: That was for the Nina Simone song “Feeling Good.” To me, that song is one of the most powerful songs in music history. I wanted to feel like I was this woman that represented all women in the world. I could be from Asia or Africa or any part of the world. I wanted to be like Queen Aphrodite in a long dress with the Asian hair coming out, [singing] a down-to-earth, soulful, bluesy cry from the soul.

I loved the long neck coming up. I wanted it to feel very exotic and high fashion at the same time. That’s always my thing: runway styles interpreted in artistic ways. And then when I came out of the audience, spotlight on me, all a capella, I wanted it to feel like a hush came over the room and it’s quiet. But because it was The Voice, everyone was screaming. [laughs]

 

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Judith Hill: This was the Michael Jackson “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Again, I wanted to strut that high fashion, structured look, but also have it be very fun, edgy and unique.  That hairstyle was something I emailed to the wardrobe department.

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I saw it on the runway, and I really loved it because it was so avant-garde. There were these two circles. And that’ s my thing: I love shapes in fashion. I love weird shapes and weird cuts anywhere. Any time I see a circle or triangle, I’m excited.

 

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Judith Hill: [for her performance of "#thatPOWER"] That was the most epic. That thing was so hard to wear! It was made out of hard material that bendable but very tough. It was all silver feathers in a cape that went all the way down. We found it in a showroom. I told them I wanted this to very tribal. High-fashion tribal. I wanted to be the Queen of the Amazon jungle. I wanted to feel like I was a goddess that was putting on this crazy rock concert in the middle of the ancient ruins.

The hair came from a picture I found online of that exact thing with the cornrows on the side and a huge afro. This is actually more tapered down. The one I sent was even crazier. I figured it was also very tribal and African, but rock star at the same time.

 

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Judith Hill: This was my last week [on The Voice], when I sang “Sweet Nothing” with Michelle Chamuel. That was just a simple classy look. It’s my natural hair look, how I usually wear it, plus a simple structured suit.

 

And an extra photo from Judith Hill’s Facebook page.

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Judith Hill: That’s me and my brother. He looks so much more Asian than me in this picture! [laughs] We look the same now. He plays the drums, but he’s an engineer. He’s the one in the family who decided to get a real job.