Judith Glory Hill is an American singer and songwriter born in Los Angeles, California. Her voice is "distinctive, soulful and has an earthy quality that makes it unique". She has provided backing vocals for such artists as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Josh Groban. In 2009, Hill was chosen as Jackson's duet partner for the song "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" during his This Is It concert tour. After Jackson's death in 2009, she, along with the rest of the This Is It cast members, performed at Jackson's memorial service and attracted global attention when she sang the lead on the song "Heal the World". Hill's rise to fame is briefly recounted in 20 Feet from Stardom, a documentary film that tells the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the "greatest musical legends of the 21st century". She is also a featured artist on the film's soundtrack.
Hill became a contestant during the fourth season of The Voice. Her elimination during the Top 8 show was considered one of the most shocking of the season. A number of Hill's original ballads, including "Desperation" were featured in the 2012 Spike Lee film Red Hook Summer. Hill opened for Josh Groban during the third leg of his All That Echoes World Tour (North America) in Fall 2013. She also performed two duets with him in his set for "The Prayer" and "Remember When It Rained", the latter of which was released as a single. She has signed with Sony Music and her debut album will be available in 2014.
Life and career:
Hill's mother is a pianist from Tokyo who met Hill's father in a funk band in the 1970s. Judith is of Japanese and African American descent. Judith can speak English and Japanese and also sings in both languages. Judith can also speak Spanish and French.
After a degree in music composition from Biola University, Hill went to France in 2007 to perform with the French singer Michel Polnareff. She began a career as a singer-songwriter when she returned to the United States.
According to Tom Meek of LA Weekly, Hill's voice is distinctive, soulful and has an earthy quality that makes it unique. She moves easily from R&B to funk to hip-hop to jazz to gospel.
Hill is credited for singing backing vocals and/or choir for Gregg Allman (Low Country Blues); Anastacia (Freak of Nature); Patrizio Buanne (Patrizio); Andraé Crouch (The Journey); Harold Faltermeyer (Copout); Josh Groban (All That Echoes); Taylor Hicks (Taylor Hicks); Elton John (The Diving Board and The Union); Carole King (A Holiday Carole); Evelyn "Champagne" King (Open Book); Mike Oldfield (Man on the Rocks); Barry Manilow (15 Minutes); Dave Stewart (The Ringmaster General and The Blackbird Diaries); Rod Stewart (Soulbook); Robbie Williams (Intensive Care);
She is a featured vocalist for albums such as Inspiration: A Tribute to Nat King Cole by George Benson, I'll Take Romance by Steve Tyrell, The Last Ai by Ai and That's Life by Landau Eugene Murphy, Jr.. She has also provides vocals for soundtracks such as Dr. Seuss' The Lorax: Original Songs from the Motion Picture, Happy Feet Two (Soundtrack),
A number of Hill's original ballads, including "Desperation" produced by Brian West, were featured in the 2012 Spike Lee film Red Hook Summer which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. About Hill, Lee said to Rolling Stone: "She's a phenomenal talent. She can sing with the best of them."
Hill signed a record deal with Sony Music in 2013.
On February 9, 2014, Hill appeared as a back-up singer in the CBS show The Beatles: A Night That Changed America.
In 2009 Hill was selected as Michael Jackson's duet partner for the This Is It concert tour; she practiced for months with Jackson up until his death on June 25, 2009.
Michael Jackson's death caused the tour to be cancelled. Along with the rest of the This Is It cast members, Hill performed at Jackson's memorial service at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on July 7, 2009. She attracted global attention when she sang the lead on the song "Heal the World" which was one of the climactic moments of the service.
Hill also released a tribute to Jackson, "I Will Always Be Missing You", named after her duet with Jackson "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" in the to-be This Is It concert. It was given as a free download from her website starting late 2009, and was released on iTunes on January 26, 2010 (the same day as the This Is It DVD release) -- with all proceeds going to Childhelp US.
Hill auditioned for the fourth season of The Voice. In the first episode of the season broadcast on March 25, 2013, she sang "What a Girl Wants" by Christina Aguilera with all four judges, Adam Levine, Shakira, Usher and Blake Shelton pressing their "I Want You" button and turning their chairs. After a hard decision, she chose to join Team Adam. "She's going to be a Grammy-winning superstar, and she's on my team", Levine stated.
For the battle rounds, Hill faced off with Karina Iglesias, singing "It's a Man's Man's Man's World", which along with Amanda Brown and Trevin Hunte's "Vision of Love", and also Jesse Campbell and Anthony Evan's "If I Ain't Got You", was considered one of the best battles in Voice history. Levine chose her to move on from his team, thus entering the Knockout Rounds. In the Knockout Rounds, Hill was paired against Orlando Dixon and won. Therefore, she entered the top 16, the start of the live shows. She was considered a frontrunner in the competition; however, after her Top 8 performance, she was eliminated on May 28, 2013. She and her teammate Sarah Simmons' eliminations at the Top 8 show was considered one of the most shocking of the season. Said Katy Kroll of Rolling Stone: "It's a sad loss for the show, as Judith had the type of vocal chops and stage presence that should really be rewarded by such a competition."
Performances on The Voice:
- Studio version of performance reached the top 10 on iTunes
"What a Girl Wants"
March 25, 2013
All four chairs turned,
Joined Team Adam
"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" (vs. Karina Iglesias)
April 15, 2013
Saved by Coach
"Always on My Mind" (vs. Orlando Dixon)
April 29, 2013
Saved by Coach
May 6, 2013
Saved by Public Vote
Live Top 12
"You've Got a Friend"
May 13, 2013
Saved by Public Vote
Live Top 10
"The Way You Make Me Feel"
May 20, 2013
Saved by Public Vote
Live Top 8
will.i.am feat. Justin Bieber
May 27, 2013
Hill sings backing vocals on three of Josh Groban's songs for the album All That Echoes and was the opening act during the third leg of his All That Echoes World Tour (North America) in Fall 2013. She also performed two duets with him in his set for "The Prayer" and "Remember When It Rained", the latter of which released as a single. She appears in Groban's official video for his song "Brave".
20 Feet from Stardom:
Hill and several backup singers are featured in the documentary film 20 Feet from Stardom, which debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and opened in US theaters on June 14, 2013. The movie won the 2014 Oscar for documentary feature and Hill won a Black Reel Award for Outstanding Original Song for "Desperation".