Not many can say they were the protégée and duet partner of two legendary artists in the last days of their lives — that is, unless you’re singer Judith Hill.
In the past two years, Hill — who recently revealed in an interview with the New York Times that she was with Prince during an emergency plane landing the week before his death — worked closely as a collaborator and apprentice to the artist.
In addition to having her debut album, “Back in Time,” produced by Prince, Hill performed and recorded with the artist at his Paisley Park estate and opened for him during his concerts in Baltimore, Detroit and Washington.
“He was such a warrior, and it’s inspiring me to be that person,” Hill told the Times.
Hill was featured in the Oscar-winning documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” and received a Grammy for her role in the film. She was also a contestant on Season 4 of “The Voice” and has been featured as a backup singer for Josh Groban, Carole King, Rod Stewart, Barry Manilow and Gregg Allman. Hill opened for John Legend on his “All of Me” tour and is featured on the soundtracks of “Happy Feet Two” and the movie version of Dr. Seuss‘ “The Lorax.”
Despite this, Prince only discovered Hill after watching an interview of hers in which she named him as her dream collaborator, according to the New York Times. Shortly after, he invited her to work with him at Paisley Park and the two quickly developed what she described as a “very intense relationship.”
“He told me that he loved me and that he would always be there for me,” Hill told the Times of a conversation between the two shortly before Prince’s passing.
But that wasn’t the first time Hill had collaborated with a star shortly before his death.
Before meeting Prince, Hill was selected in 2009 as Michael Jackson’s duet partner for his “This Is It” tour. But less than three weeks before the tour was set to begin, Jackson passed away and the concert series was canceled.
Though her rehearsals with Jackson can be seen in the “This Is It” documentary, Hill told the Times that her rapport with the pop star was not like her relationship with Prince. Instead, she acted more as Jackson’s “fan and as someone that worked for him.”
Though the singer — who is able to perform in both English and Japanese, and is fluent in Spanish and French — has already embarked on a tour, she will now be doing so without her closest mentor.
“Now he’s gone, and I realize I was leaning on him a lot,” Hill told the Times. “And that’s what’s scary. I’m on my own.”