Summer Fridays with Judith Hill

She’s got more than “The Voice”

judith hill!

They call it the hook.

The part of the song that draws you in, the one you can’t get out of your head. Singing our summer hook? Judith Hill.

From church houses and choir lofts to the small screen and now the silver screen, she’s shared the stage with Michael Jackson and battled for Team Adam on The Voice — and this summer she’s spotlighted in Twenty Feet from Stardom, an award-winning documentary about the lives of backup singers (her, Darlene Love, Merry Clayton).

Lucky us, she stopped by DailyCandy HQ for a private concert. Read on and prepare to fall hook, line, and sinker. We did.

You, Darlene Love, Merry Clayton — all rock stars in the film. What was it like singing with such powerhouses?
It was so amazing. I just grew up knowing about these women. And my parents [the jazzy PeeWee and Michiko Hill] actually knew them and worked with them when I was young. So it was great to come around full circle and work with them on this film. I was so honored.

Who’s the biggest diva?
Merry will tell everyone that she’s the diva.

Have you seen the film yet?
I have, yes.

Did anything shock you?
The details of their stories. I didn’t know any of that. Like Darlene, she was cleaning houses [after being pummeled by the music biz]. It really shocked me. And also the different struggles all the women had gone through.

You’ve sung with some greats. Favorite encounter?
Singing with Michael Jackson is definitely the highlight in my life. He was just so magical and just working with him I learned so much. And I’ll never forget that experience. He really did inspire me and change my life.

Let’s talk Red Hook Summer. What’d you do on the sound track?
Spike had finished the film. He had heard me perform, and he was really excited and impressed with me — after he’d done the original music. He wanted to put some of my music in the film, so I sent him a lot of music. And he ended up using my original songs and featuring me as an artist. So that was really exciting.

Describe Spike Lee in three words.
Oh my god. Spontaneous. Hilarious. Thoughtful. He was a blast to work with.

We loved you on The Voice. Any Team Adam words of wisdom?
Just to really come out of your shell and give people a taste of who you are as a person. Aside from the music, that was the biggest thing I learned. Working with him and working on the show was really stepping out of my comfort zone.

Are you more of a shy, reserved person?
Yes, I am. Definitely. So being on The Voice was good for me to break out of that.

When you were eliminated, we were like, “Wuh?” What was your first word/thought?
I was disappointed. Kind of sad. And then I went through a bunch of emotions. I received a lot of encouragement from fans — it was cool to see that a lot of people appreciated what I did on the show. It was kind of like I didn’t really have a chance after that to process it, because I was in New York the next morning. I still haven’t had a chance.

What’s something kinda quirky your fans don’t know about you?
I am obsessed with superheroes — any type of comic books or movies.

judith hill!

You worked on the Michael Jackson doc, This Is It. Best MJ moment?
One of the funniest moments with Michael was during “Thriller” when the backup singers were supposed to be grim reapers. And they had us in these long, draped black hooded costumes, and I had this huge hair, and it filled out the entire hood. And I remember Michael looking and laughing at the whole thing. Clearly, I stood out. That was a fun moment. But there were a lot of great moments. Even in the duet — that was magical to be able to do that.

Preshow ritual?
I do a lot of lip bubbles and exercises, vocal warm-ups right before I go on stage. Also I just pray. Make sure I’m settled in my spirit.

Any pets?
I do. I have a dog. She’s a yellow Labrador retriever, and her name is Affy. Her full name is Africa. She’s my baby.

First concert you went to?
I went to a lot of things as a kid in church, but I think my big moment was when my parents were performing and Little Richard was performing.

One song you wish you’d written?
“As,” by Stevie Wonder.

Go-to summer outfit?
Baggie jean short cutoffs and this kind of colorful top — it’s actually from Casual Corner, but it’s my favorite. It turned out to be this really classic piece I love.

That’s awesome. We have a similar story with a pair of Express ponte pants. What about beauty? Summer skin care?
Dermalogica cleanser and moisturizer.

Go-to summer polish color?
Just a nice cream or pearl.

Favorite brand?

You have awesome hair — pretty please give us the 411.
Kim Kimble products. She’s got a great line. I also love Nexxus. I use a lot of its moisturizers and leave-in conditioners.

Earbuds or headphones?

Top up or down?


Pool party or beach bonfire?

Beach bonfire

Cutoffs or maxi dresses?


Apple pie or peach cobbler?
Peach cobbler

Twenty Feet from Stardom is now playing. Find showtimes at fandango.com. For more entertainment, check out June’s must-see movies, GoWatchIt channels, and Download picks.

Photos: Courtesy of BB Gun Press; Courtesy of Radius-TWC