Michael Jackson and Prince collaborator and The Voice star Judith Hill shines at Camden’s Jazz Cafe

Judith Hill put on an outstanding show at The Jazz Cafe in Camden on May 3.

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Not many artists can boast a career that has taken in Prince and Michael Jackson collaborations, The Voice and a touring band featuring ma and pa. In fact, probably just one.

Judith Hill is a multi-instrumentalist fit for Paisley Park and a powerhouse singer fit to share a stage with either of those stars.

She arrived at the Jazz Cafe in Camden backed by a band featuring mum Michiko Hill on keys and dad Robert Lee Hill on bass.

Dad, known as Pee Wee Hill, has more than a bit of Sly and the Family Stone’s Larry Graham to him and is an engaging presence, but it is mum who threatens to upstage young Judith, cutting a sharp figure in the spotlight.

A “family affair” it may be, but it has to be said that drummer John Staten was exceptional, stage right, as well.

A prodigious talent, Hill has had a fascinating career and was due to duet with Jackson on the This Is It tour, preparations for which were cut short by his death. Another Part of Me is a good choice for her current set - an oft-overlooked classic from Bad.

The singer’s work with Prince consisted primarily of his production of her 2015 album Back In Time. The album was recorded quickly, a year before his death, and it’s a strong set of songs - which sound even stronger on stage with a stripped-back band in Camden. Angel In the Dark is a deep soul groove with a massive chorus (“I’d just about given up”). It should have been a hit single and a staple of television talent show wannabes (Hill herself appeared on The Voice in the US).

Equally strong are the ballad Beautiful Life, which opened the show, and the classic soul blues of Cry, Cry, Cry.

Judith Hill at The Jazz Cafe in Camden. (Photo by André Langlois)Judith Hill at The Jazz Cafe in Camden. (Photo by André Langlois)
Judith Hill at The Jazz Cafe in Camden. (Photo by André Langlois)

Elsewhere the band really enjoyed themselves in the funk review of Jammin’ in the Basement.

Silence, from 2021’s Baby, I’m Hollywood!, was a poignant show of musicality, while God Bless the Mechanic from that album has a delightful, slinky bounce to it, with lyric which would have won the purple stamp of approval:

“Hey Mechanic, won’t you pay another visit? It’s been weeks, I think our time is overdue. Come on over, I got things that needing fixin’. I remember you and all your special tools.”

There’s a reason Hill’s voice was picked out by two of pop’s greatest talents. It has power and vulnerability, as well as fun on more upbeat grooves like Gypsy Lover and You Got The Right Thang. Outstanding.