Judith Hill Steps into the Spotlight

Judith Hill Steps into the Spotlight

in SF Concert Reviews by

You have to wonder what Christmas dinner is like for the Hill family. When you have a dad that’s a killer bassist, a mom who wails on the keys, and a talented daughter by the name of Judith with pipes of gold, the post-dinner singing has got to be the stuff that legends are made of. Last night in San Francisco, the lucky few that made their way to the Great American Music Hall got a taste of it, and boy did it not disapoint.

For those that don’t know Judith Hill, chances you will. Rolling Stone has called her voice, “stellar powerhouse vocals.” In addition to penning and performing her own material, Judith – who wrote her first song at the age of four – has backed such artists as Stevie Wonder, Elton John and the late Michael Jackson. She also stared in Morgan Neville’s acclaimed “20 Feet From Stardom,” a film that shines the spotlight on the untold true story of backup singers who solidly stand behind some of the greatest musical legends with not enough aknowledgement. The film won the Film Critics Award for Best Documentary and an Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Hill was also a contestant on season four of “The Voice,” and has already garnered much praise for her live performance as opener for Josh Groban, John Legend and Prince both in the US and the UK. She recently came out with her debut album “Back In Time,” which was produced by the purple man himself.

About the collaboration Hill has said, “Prince did not see me on This Is It. He had not seen ’20 Feet from Stardom’. He had not seen me on ‘The Voice.’ He saw me on some random TV interview where I was asked who I’d want to collaborate with and I said him,” said Hill in her bio on her website. After doing a bit of research, Prince called Hill personally and said he’d love to work with her. “Right out of the gate it was an artist-to-artist conversation about music,” Hill recalls of the call, during which Prince also extended an invitation to the listening party for his latest album, Art Official Age and, a few weeks later, to his studio in Minneapolis. “There were no plans,” she said of her first time at Paisley Park. “It was just an invitation to come hang out. I jammed with his band. I played him some of my songs. That’s when we began to start talking about music and creating. That’s really when it all began.”

Last night Hill sounded amazing. She had the crowd eating out of the palm of hand with every perfect note she hit and every cute smile she cracked. Her band was just as tight and included not only her talented parents but also Tony Maiden of Rufus fame on the guitar. It was a unforgettable evening, one that a lucky few will likely recount during dinner conversation that will include the phrase: “God, I remember when she played this little club in San Francisco. And look at her now.”

An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.