(HILLSIDE, NJ) -- Singer-songwriter Judith Hill won a Grammy as a backup singer, but she will showcase her individual artistry when she performs in Kean Stage’s summer concert series on the Lawn at Enlow Hall on July 31.
Hill has worked with Michael Jackson, Prince and John Legend, among others, and performed in the Grammy-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom.
“I write music to inspire and activate others,” said Hill, who will feature songs from her new album, Baby, I’m Hollywood!, in her performance on Kean’s outdoor stage. During the pandemic she wrote and recorded music, but Hill said it “feels great” to return to live shows.
“I really feel alive again being on the stage,” she said.
Hill’s concert will be the third held at Kean this month as Kean Stage relaunched live music. “We were thrilled to be able to revive live entertainment at Kean, and there is no better way to finish the summer series than with the amazing Judith Hill,” said Kean Stage Manager Steve Cochran.
Hill, who describes her work as soul/funk/rock, was born, raised and lives in Los Angeles. She said she was inspired to become a musician in part by her parents. Her father, who is Black, played bass with the legendary Billy Preston, and her mother, who is Japanese, is a classical pianist.
“They are both in my band, which I think is very special,” she said.
Hill had a number of high-profile experiences early in her career. In 2009, she was cast in Michael Jackson’s much-anticipated This is It tour, including being chosen to perform a duet with him of the song, I Just Can’t Stop Loving You. After Jackson’s sudden death in 2009, while the show was still in rehearsals, Hill sang at his memorial service.
Hill has opened for Josh Groban and toured with John Legend. She had a long run on The Voice, where she was coached by Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine; worked with the visionary Prince and recorded an album at his Paisley Park studio; and wrote several ballads for the Spike Lee film Red Hook Summer.
She was one of the featured performers in the film 20 Feet from Stardom, which describes the life of backup singers. In 2015, she received a Grammy Award when the film was honored as Best Music Film.
“I treasure those experiences,” she said. “I was able to sing music that I love and be surrounded by incredible people who have become my lifelong friends.”
Throughout her career, however, Hill also created her own music.
“I always performed and wrote my own music. I feel very grateful to live a life where I am able to use my music to heal and enrich people,” she said.
Her new album, which she describes as “a musical journey that explores my loneliness and finds the beauty and celebration amidst the struggle,” includes songs such as Americana, Newborn Woman and the title track, Baby, I’m Hollywood! It is available on streaming platforms and her website, judithhill.com
“The album release [of Baby, I’m Hollywood!] is the first step I have taken in reclaiming my name,” she said. “One of the most important lessons I learned from Prince is to make sure everything you do is coming from within. Don’t let life happen to you. Make sure you are making the decisions.”
In addition to the concert series, Premiere Stages, in partnership with Kean Stage, is offering family entertainment on Saturday mornings in July. The final family performance will be the acrobatic troupe Galumpha on Saturday, July 31 at 11 a.m. Combining stunning acrobatics, striking visual effects, physical comedy and inventive choreography, Galumpha brings to life a world of imagination, beauty, muscle and merriment.
For all ticket information, visit www.keanstage.com. The Lawn at Enlow Hall is located at 215 North Avenue in Hillside, New Jersey.
Photo Provided by Royal Artist Group. Interview by Jeanette Rundquist.
Founded in 1855, Kean University is one of the largest metropolitan institutions of higher education in the region, with a richly diverse student, faculty and staff population. Kean continues to play a key role in the training of teachers and is a hub of educational, technological and cultural enrichment serving more than 16,000 students. The University’s six undergraduate colleges offer more than 50 undergraduate degrees over a full range of academic subjects. The Nathan Weiss Graduate College offers six doctoral degree programs and more than 80 options for graduate study leading to master’s degrees, professional diplomas or certifications. With campuses in Union, Toms River, Jefferson and Manahawkin, New Jersey, and Wenzhou, China, Kean University furthers its mission by providing an affordable and accessible world-class education.
Kean Stage at Kean University educates, entertains and challenges audiences by presenting high-quality programs that reflect the diversity of the region and of the arts. These cultural offerings complement the intellectual life of the classroom for our students, increase opportunities for community engagement, and provide affordable access to the arts for New Jersey residents. Audiences of all ages are invited to enjoy a wide range of professional theatre, Broadway tours, dance performances, concerts, international films and family-friendly shows. In addition, Kean Stage encourages University students to attend events, and provides several opportunities to explore the performing arts through master classes, workshops, lectures, and employment opportunities as ushers, backstage technicians and box office staff.