Perhaps the biggest shocker on the May 28 broadcast of NBC’s “The Voice” was the elimination of audience favorite Judith Hill.
Adam Levine’s team lost both Hill and Sarah Simmons, leaving him with just Amber Carrington. At this stage of the competition, the eliminations are based on viewer votes. Disappointed with the results, Levine was heard to mutter, “I hate this country.” The Maroon 5 frontman has taken some heat for that comment.
On May 27, a jam-packed audience at Universal Studios cheered on the remaining artists of Season 4, including Team Usher (Michelle Chamuel), Team Shakira (Sasha Allen) and Blake Shelton’s team (The Swon Brothers, Holly Tucker, Danielle Bradbery).
The first performer was Hill. Singing will.i.am’s “#thatPOWER,” surrounded by a band and a cadre of male dancers, she rocked the house. She also collaborated with Chamuel on Rihanna’s “Diamonds.”
The next day, four duets included Hill and Chamuel singing Calvin Harris’ “Sweet Nothing,” and it was announced that Chamuel was safe for another week. Host Carson Daly also had good news for Bradbery, The Swon Brothers and Carrington.
Finally, standing side-by-side, Allen and Tucker learned they were heading to the Top 6 while Hill and Simmons learned they were going home.
“I would like to thank all of the fans who voted for me last night and every other night,” Hill said on her Facebook page. “Your words of encouragement and support always made me smile and steadied me. I couldn’t have walked this part of my musical journey without you!
“Of course, I was devastated tonight but have had great fun on the show and am glad I had the opportunity to show another side of my artistry. For me, being a true artist means taking risks. There is more to come on this musical journey of mine, so I hope you continue with me on this grand adventure.”
Born in 1984 in Los Angeles, Hill is of Japanese and African American descent. Her mother is a pianist from Tokyo who met her father in a funk band in the 1970s. She counts artists like Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson as her biggest influences.
After getting a degree in music composition from Biola University, Hill went to France in 2007 to perform with singer Michel Polnareff. She began a career as a singer-songwriter when she returned to the U.S.
In 2009, Hill was selected as one of Michael Jackson’s back-up singers for his planned “This Is It” tour, which was canceled upon his death. Along with the rest of the “This Is It” cast members, she performed at Jackson’s memorial service at Staples Center on July 7, 2009. She attracted global attention when she sang the lead on the song “Heal the World,” which was one of the climactic moments of the service.
She also released a tribute to Jackson, “I Will Always Be Missing You,” named after her duet with him on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” in the concert. It was given as a free download from her website and was released on iTunes on Jan. 26, 2010 (the same day as the “This Is It” DVD release), with all proceeds going to Childhelp US.
Hill sings with Stevie Wonder on a fairly regular basis and collaborated with “America’s Got Talent” winner Landau Eugene Murphy on his debut album, “That’s Life.”
A number of Hill’s original ballads were featured in the Spike Lee film “Red Hook Summer,” which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Lee recently told Rolling Stone, “She’s a phenomenal talent. She can sing with the best of them.”
Hill was also one of several backup singers featured in the film “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
In the first episode of Season 4 of “The Voice” on March 25, she sang Christina Aguilera’s “What a Girl Wants,” with all four judges pressing their “I Want You” buttons and turning their chairs. Her other performances on the show included Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” and Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good”; and, with the other members of Team Adam, Florence and the Machine’s “Shake It Out,” The Cure’s “Lovesong,” and the Kiki Dee Band’s “I’ve Got the Music in Me.”
In the battle rounds, Hill faced off with Karina Iglesias, singing James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.” In the knockout rounds, she battled Orlando Dixon, singing Brenda Lee’s “Always on My Mind.”
On the Web: www.judithhill.com