Judith Hill
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Judith Hill

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"Performance Review"

"Along with Katisse, the highlights of the evening can be expected from the extraordinary Judith Hill, who may well be the best young vocalist in Greater Los Angeles. Her interpretations of songs including "Original Ray" and "Away With Words" border on stunning, as she sings with a multi-dimensional sophistication that belies her youth at only 23."---Tom Meek - LA Jazz


Still working on that hot first release.



What word best describes Judith Hill's music? Innovation. She pushes the envelope with a melting pot of so many styles, and yet achieves her own signature sound that is consistent from track to track. With a charcoal, soulful voice and amazing range and versatility, she paints a vivid picture of her life. Her palette of colors and unique tones are so extensive, you may discover something new during every listen. In her vocal you may hear the rawness of Janis Joplin, the tenderness of Corine Bailey Rae, or the powerful conviction of Aretha Franklin. Her production is a blend of R&B/hip hop beats fused with a Led Zeppelin rock edge and peppered with impressionistic harmonies. But what is more amazing is that none of these elements are thrown together randomly. They are all integral parts of her story.

Judith was born in Los Angeles and raised in a family of musicians. Her mother is an immigrant from Japan who met her father in a funk band in the 1970s. She laughs about her bi-racial experience, "I was a skinny mixed kid with a lot of hair that I didn't know what to do with (and still don't know what to do with it). And my mom could not help me with it!" She lived in a Christian home and embraced Jesus Christ at an early age. She comments, "I had a pretty good life in my childhood. Me and God were friends since the beginning. That helped a lot. But, it didn't save me from walking a path of pain and asking the deep questions of life. I was a philosopher as a kid, and in school you could find me in the library." She admits that she never "fit in". Depending on the social circle, she was labeled "too quiet", "too loud", "too black", "to asian", or too something. Judith expresses, "I was a traveler, kind of a drifter. But, looking back I see how all of those experiences, friends, and cultures made me who I am today."

So when did it all start? Judith doesn't remember a time when she wasn't singing. Her mother discovered the talent during a drive home from school one day when Judith was practicing a song she learned in class. At four years old, she recorded her first song, God has made. She looks back on the earlier years, "It was painful. I was my own worst critic and I knew that I sucked! People tried to sell me as a prodigy, but I wasn't ready." Constantly surrounded by musicians and singers, she resisted the whole thing. She admits, "I rebelled because I was stubborn. I didn't want to do what people expected of me." It wasn't until later, when the young talent found her voice on her own. She recalls, "Three women: Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, and Ella Fitzgerald. I sang along with cassette recordings of them because the sounds they made with their voices gave me hope. It was something that took me away from my reality. It was something I had to be a part of." It wasn't long before Judith was able to make a statement of her own that began to gain recognition in the industry.

In college, she went on to study music composition under Dr. John Browning at Biola University. Classical music had always been a vital part of her musical upbringing. She remembers, "I use to always listen to the Mendelssohn violin concerto in E minor as a kid. I would get lost in it; it was so sad and passionate; it was what I felt inside. I was hungry for more, and I wanted to know what made that piece so amazing? And how could I create something like that? That's when I realized I was a composer." During her college years, she won several awards and flourished in her works for chamber ensembles, orchestras, jazz bands, and quartets. Her professor recognized her exceptional talent and encouraged her to pursue a master's degree. However by then her passion for singing was too great to ignore. She explains, "Eventually, I became more expressive, and I felt like I was pouring my heart out when I sang. I needed it and it needed me; and people wanted more."

The year after graduation, she sang in France with French pop star, Michel Polnareff. "France is where I collected my stories," says Judith. "It was everything from finding true love, to sitting on the curb with gypsies, to running away from thugs (don't ask), to just taking in the beauty of such an amazing country. I came back rich."

After her return, Judith spent the following year putting the songs together and finding her sound. But, this was no easy year for her. She disappeared. She grieved over painful relationships, trauma in the family, and suffered from severe depression. But, she came out stronger than ever and found a way to channel her emotional experience into music. She says, "Sometimes I wake up because I hear songs in my dreams. I have to turn the lamp on and scribble the melodies down in the middle of the night. My dad always told me God told him I needed to be born. I guess there's a reason for my madness."

Judith's musical integrity and depth is astounding. She has a way of