‘The Voice’ singer Judith Hill breaks out of background, into solo stardom

For the CDTOctober 25, 2013 

Judith Hill, a former backup singer for Rod Stewart, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and more, will headline a concert Nov. 1 at the State Theatre.

PHOTO PROVIDED

  • if you go

    What: Judith Hill, Jason O.

    When: 8 p.m. Nov. 1

    Where: State Theatre, 130 W. College Ave., State College

    Info: www.thestatetheatre.org, 272-0606

After years of backing up some of music’s biggest names, Judith Hill has broken into the spotlight as a solo artist.

In the past year, Hill has performed on the TV show “The Voice,” opened for Josh Groban and had a role in the documentary “20 Feet from Stardom.” Hill will perform a headlining show at The State Theatre on Nov. 1.

Though Hill is best known for singing covers on “The Voice,” she said her State Theatre show will feature mostly original material from a new album to be released next year.

“It will be a wide range of my stuff from up-tempo dance songs to soulful and ballads and everything in between,” Hill said in a recent interview. “It has a great flow to it. My band and background singers have been on the road traveling and just killing it every night.”

Speaking of background singers, Hill spent many years as one herself, performing with Rod Stewart, Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Michael Jackson. That experience caught the attention of director Morgan Neville, whose “20 Feet from Stardom” documentary tells the story of background singers and the role they play in concerts. The film will be shown Oct. 28 and 29 at the State Theatre.

“Morgan put together this amazing story of background singers and he told the story so well,” Hill said. “I’m honored to be in the same story with Darlene Love and so many other iconic singers.”

Hill admits it’s still a little odd to have background singers of her own after spending so many years in that role.

“I’m out with two of my friends who are great singers,” Hill said. “I know what it’s like to be a background singer and I appreciate them for being there for me. It means a lot.”

Local musician Jason Olcese will open for Hill at the show. Olcese is in the midst of a solo tour this fall and will utilize the opening act slot to showcase some of his original material. He said his style should complement Hill’s very well.

“She really has a message she’s trying to send with her music and her art,” Olcese said. “I want to try to create an atmosphere where the audience is thinking about life and opening up their minds for whatever she’s going to bring.”

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