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Judith Hill reflects on Michael Jackson, 'The Voice'

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Judith Hill, a contestant on "The Voice" last spring, will play with Josh Groban at the United Center on Sunday.

Look below for a Q-and-A with the artist on her career and what to expect at her live show.

Q. What was it like being selected as Michael Jackson's duet partner for “This Is It”?

A. It was pretty mind blowing. I was not expecting it at all. I was gigging in town in LA, and then I met a musician friend and they put my name in as a recommendation. It just happened so fast. When I got the call I was completely honored. I had no words, really. You know, they Could have chosen anyone, but to be chosen by Michael was incredible and amazing. It just seems like a big dream, actually. It was a beautiful experience.

Q. How did your interactions with Michael Jackson influence your music?

A. I took a lot from Michael. When you work with someone like that, you see the whole thing. He embodies what an artist is. Seeing him work with the band, his movements and his stage direction to the director, and seeing his dream and vision come to life on stage was so inspiring for me. It just showed me the possibility of what you can do with artistry, and there’s no limit to it. He just kept pushing the boundaries and was just creating magic on stage. I went in as more of a singer, but I came out of that experience with such a deeper understanding of what it means to be an artist. I started thinking about the bigger picture and how I can make my show amazing and how I can add a visual aspect to it; how I can connect with people. Michael really inspired me in that way.

Q. When did you start singing and entertaining?

A. I started singing when I was four. My parents were both musicians so I grew up in a very musical family, and I never stopped. It was always a part of my life. I don’t remember ever not singing. My parents did push me to pursue a musical career. I kind of fought it in my late elementary/junior high years, because Mom and dad telling me to do it . But I found it to be the only thing that I really loved, especially at the end of junior high. I’ve always sung and I’ve always recorded in a studio. I went to college and I studied music composition, which was probably the best four years of my life. Music just opened up my eyes to a lot of stuff.

Q. What propelled you to tryout for "The Voice"?

A. A lot of people were encouraging me saying, “You should go on ‘The Voice’. It’s perfect for you.” I had my reservations from the beginning. When I thought about it, it was more like “How more exciting is it to go on television and do what you do; do what you love?” Especially in the format of cover songs it is really good because you really do discover your style, what song works best for you and how you can make it your own. It became a very good experience for me and I learned a lot about who I am as an artist, and I also got to play up things that I love. Before "The Voice" I was working on music and getting one-off gigs and little tour dates. I was doing a lot of background. I was a background singer for Stevie Wonder. I did that up until I went on "The Voice".

Q. What has the show done for your career?

A. It's amazing how many people watch the show. A lot of people gave me gig offers, and I signed with William Morris. I did the Josh Groban tour and signed with Sony. It really helped me take my career to the next level.

Q. How did you end up opening for Josh Groban?

A. I sang on Josh's latest record. I got a chance to meet with him. I did a couple of shows: Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen with him to promote his single. It was a really good experience and then I went on "The Voice" and in the process doing that I signed with an agent, William Morris who works with Josh. I had a lot of mutual friends with Josh. The agent was able to put me on the tour, and it worked out because Josh knew me from the record. All of the pieces just came together.

Q. What can people expect from your debut solo album?

A. I'm putting out EPs. The first EP, people can expect it to be a very wintery, kind of a holiday EP with inspirational messages and it’s very vocally driven music, but very soulful with themes of world music in it. What I want to do is take people on a journey and show that side of me and show the up-tempo, energy side of me, which will be on the next EP. But for this first EP, they can expect it to be very seasonal music and very lush and warm soul-driven music.

Q. What can people expect when seeing you live at a show?

"The Voice" was an opportunity to show people a different side of me, especially in performing. My show is definitely going to be a lot of that stuff, but in my own original music. The show has a lot of different sides of me. I start with Ballads and go into really up-tempo, fun music and soul songs. I really love the stage. It's like a playground for me. It’s really fun and energetic. I’ll be playing the piano as well. We like to do a lot of different things live.

Q. Have you ever been to Chicago? What are your favorite parts about the city?

A. I have been to Chicago once. I fell in love with the city. Unfortunately I only got to stay for a day. I walked around the downtown area. I really enjoyed it and I wish I could have spent more time there. I’m really excited to get back and perform there. The architecture is just so beautiful.

 

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