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Ex-background singer steps into own spotlight in Tampa show

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Published:   |   Updated: November 6, 2013 at 09:09 AM

Judith Hill has performed back-up vocals for entertainers from Rod Stewart and Stevie Wonder to Elton John and the late Michael Jackson.

The Los Angeles resident was scheduled to sing with the “King of Pop” during his “This Is It” tour. But the tour was canceled when Jackson died in 2009.

After Jackson’s death, the singer largely put her career on hold, though she paid tribute to her friend when she sang lead on “Heal The World” during Jackson’s televised memorial service.

But NBC’s reality singing competition, “The Voice,” got Hill’s attention.

“It actually seemed the right thing at the right point in my life,” she said during a telephone interview. “After my career as a background singer, I’d written a lot of original music and wanted to come out as a solo artist. (“The Voice”) gives you a great platform to show your original style. I thought it was perfect for me and it ended up being that.”

Hill will open Friday for Josh Groban at the Forum.

The sultry singer quickly became a stand-out on season 4 of the singing competition.

After a four-chair turn, Hill chose Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levin. Under his tutelage, she became an early favorite, thrilling fans with her powerful vocals and seasoned stage performances.

Many viewers were shocked when the singer was voted off. But singing competitions, such as “The Voice,” are about much more than singing, Hill said.

“The show has a lot of different elements to it,” she added. “You have to be sensitive to the temperature of the country. It was Memorial weekend (when I was voted off) and I could have sang something patriotic. You quickly learn its not just about singing, it’s also about paying attention to what would connect most to the people.”

Since appearing on “The Voice,” Hill has stayed very busy.

She’s one of the vocalists featured in the musical documentary, “20 Feet From Stardom,” which spotlights background singers, she’s touring with Groban and she’s about to release a new album early next year, on which she co-wrote all of the songs.

“It’s got a very soulful sound and a really nice beats,” she said.

Hill also is heeding valuable advice she received from her late friend.

“You have to dream big and work really hard to make that dream come true,” Jackson told her. “He was the ultimate entertainer,” she added. “Just being under his wing for a little bit and watching his talent was so amazing.”

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