In a spur of the moment decision, Prince invited a select group of media into his Paisley Park recording studio Sunday night to preview some of Judith Hill's new music, which he and his team just finished producing at the Chanhassen, Minn. studio.
You may recognize Hill, 31, from NBC's The Voice, where she was a contestant a few seasons back and brought the house down with her "What a Girl Wants" audition. Or, if you've seen Michael Jackson's documentary This is It, you'll know her as the soulful woman who sang "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" with Jackson on his tour that was supposed to kick off right after he passed away.
Most recently, Hill was featured in the 2013 documentary film "20 Feet from Stardom," which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the 2014 Oscar & Critics Choice Award for documentary feature and a Grammy award for Best Music Film in 2015.
But Prince didn't know Hill from any of these settings, he told us he came across her when he saw a video clip of her being interviewed on a European TV show where she mentioned she'd like to work with him.
The Purple One had nothing but praise and admiration for Hill's voice. He said he couldn't stop listening to her sing and has already overplayed her new songs, joking that he wants her to start making another album so he can listen to her more.
After listening to about six of Hill's songs produced by Prince, he asked the room for our knowledge and feedback regarding the best way was to get her "Back in Time" album out to all generations in this ever-changing world of music platforms.
City Pages' Reed Fischer suggested a video, Star Tribune writer Jon Bream suggested TV appearances, and I suggested the use of Spotify – which Prince then asked me what Spotify is. I explained to him what it was and told him it's where most millennials discover new music.
Prince liked the Spotify suggestion and asked his associate how long it would take to get Hill's music up on it -- "one week," he responded. He then told his associate to pursue it. Regardless of the minimal royalties it pays artists, Prince agreed it'd be a good way to get her music out there.
For being one of the best-selling artists of all time, I could not believe how welcoming Prince was to everyone he let into his Paisley Park studio. He was open to our ideas, made us feel comfortable while conversing with him, and even cracked a few jokes here and there.
Around midnight, after the studio session, Hill performed her music for about fifty fans that were let into Paisley Park. Prince joined the crowd while relishing in her music, playing a little keyboard, and mingling with the fans until about 2 a.m.
Judith Hill's new album: Back in Time, Produced by Prince