Judith Hill, Biola University alumna (’05) participated in a historical event and gave a stand out performance yesterday, July 7, 2009, at Michael Jackson’s memorial service. Hill, originally slated as a back up singer in Jackson’s “This is it!” tour, sang lead in the closing song “Heal the World,” and left the audience and approximately one billion viewers asking “Who is that?”

Hill is already overwhelmed with interview requests, including one from Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight, and only hours after her performance at the memorial service Rolling Stone published an article about her. Rolling Stone called her the “mystery singer” and reported that the performers’ names were not listed in the gold programs handed out at Jackson's memorial, therefore making her and others anonymous.

The singer was born in Los Angeles and raised in a Christian home with a family of musicians. She studied music composition under John Browning from the Conservatory of Music at Biola, where her mother, Michiko Hill said she loved the professors. While at Biola, she won several awards and was very involved.

“What struck me about Judith is how accomplished she was in many areas.  She was not a pop-singer who was just going through the motions of getting a degree,” said Director of Biola’s Conservatory of Music, George Boespflug.  “She was outstanding in the classroom and as a composer.  She took all her work very seriously.”

After yesterday’s performance at Jackson’s memorial, Michiko said they are overwhelmed right now.

“We didn’t expect this, but it seems like God put her there for a purpose — to bring hope,” she said. “We’re praying that the Lord will use her and she will be an ambassador for Christ through her music.”

Her mother, an immigrant from Japan, met her father in a funk band in the 1970s. According to her website, judithhillmusic.com, her bi-racial experience growing up made it hard for her to “fit in.”

“Depending on the social circle, she was labeled ‘too quiet,’ ‘too loud,’ ‘too black,’ ‘too Asian,’ or too something.  Judith expresses, ‘I was a traveler, kind of a drifter.  But, looking back I see how all of those experiences, friends, and cultures made me who I am today,’” according to her website. 

Her mother said Hill’s assignment from God is to sing and hers is to pray. She would love for Hill to be able to share her songs with the world now.

“Her songs make me cry and I’d love for the whole world to hear them, that may be possible now,” said Michiko. “I think her music is deep and real art. This is the opportunity to bring that to the world now, something music is lacking right now.”

Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu.