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Hillary Smith

http://hilljam.com.

With a deep soulfulness rooted in the Gospel-driven churches of her youth, a classically trained vocal instrument that’s a natural wonder, and a God-given instinct for swinging a lyric, vocalist Hillary Smith has been electrifying audiences across the United States for more than 30 years.

A native of Hobbs, New Mexico, Hill first made her mark in the ’80s with gutsy performances of rockin’ blues and funk, and she’s fronted a number of popular bands in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area over the years. Chief among the early groups was the ...read more

http://hilljam.com.

With a deep soulfulness rooted in the Gospel-driven churches of her youth, a classically trained vocal instrument that’s a natural wonder, and a God-given instinct for swinging a lyric, vocalist Hillary Smith has been electrifying audiences across the United States for more than 30 years.

A native of Hobbs, New Mexico, Hill first made her mark in the ’80s with gutsy performances of rockin’ blues and funk, and she’s fronted a number of popular bands in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area over the years. Chief among the early groups was the multi-award-winning Strictly Taboo, whose debut album, Playing with Fire, got heavy rotation on local and international radio. In recent years, Hill has been digging deeper into the blues with guitarist Chris Dracup and bassist Marcus Casman in the Soul Kitchen trio—yet another award-winning, crowd-pleasing venture.

As comfortable with swinging jazz as she is with funky blues, Hill is featured on pianist/vocalist/composer Kevin Hayes’ 2007 recording The Dreamer, and she appeared with Kevin at the 2007 Gathering of the Vibes, along with Joshua Redman, Nicholas Payton, Peter Bernstein, and Bill Stewart.

Her 2008 release, No Easy Way, showcases her full repertoire—jazzy blues, big-band funk, Gospel-inflected R&B, and neosoul. The album carried off an armful of New Mexico Music Awards, including “Best of the Year,” and Hill gratefully acknowledges that a little help from her friends, including Grammy-nominated trumpeter Bobby Shew and legendary “funky drummer” Clyde Stubblefield, contributed to its success.

In 2010, a chance encounter with singer/songwriters Mandy Buchanan and Yvonne Perea opened an exciting new chapter in Hill’s career that recast her as not just a vocalist, but as a singer/songwriter. The three ladies found a sweet spot in their acoustic trio hONEyhoUSe, whose 2011 debut album, Sun, found its way to the podium as “Best of the Year” at the New Mexico Music Awards.

Hill credits Mandy and Yvonne with helping her discover her writing talent. Though she loves interpreting others’ tunes—from American songbook standards to the low-downest blues—she’s discovered that singing material that comes directly from her own heart offers a deeper satisfaction.

Medicine Lodge, hONEyhoUSe’s stunning 2012 release, found the trio making even more beautiful music. The album grabbed more hardware at the New Mexico Music Awards and caught the ear of Avokado Records head Tom Frouge, who inked a deal with the trio, setting them on a path that will reach potentially millions of ears.

For Hill, that’s a gratifying affirmation of a life dedicated to music. Still, she says, it’s not so much the number of ears that she reaches, but how deeply she reaches into those ears that matters most. « hide

Similar Bands: Etta James, Lydia Pence, Mavis Staples, Strictly Taboo, hONEyhoUSe

No Easy Way
2008

Contributors: Britch2tiger,

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