Since winning the 2015 Grammy Award for best music film as one of the featured backup singers in the Academy Award-winning documentary 20 Feet from Stardom and releasing her Prince-produced studio album Back in Time the same year, Judith Hill has been relatively quiet. But that doesn’t mean the former The Voice contestant hasn’t stayed busy.
The singer/songwriter/musician premieres her new single’s video via Billboard this morning (May 18). “The Pepper Club” is the first release from her forthcoming full-length studio album, Golden Child, which will come out on her Gloryhill label. Golden Child is also the title of her first live musical production; both projects will bow concurrently later this year.
“I was just writing organically from the heart,” says Hill of the 13-track album that she began working on in 2016. “As I kept creating, I realized there was a story to be told, a message that carried a common thread,” she continues. “That’s what inspired the musical.”
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That musical thread sews together stories involving a community of diverse residents and how they find unity as they overcome societal divisions and hatred that try to separate them. Hill is quick to point out that Golden Child isn’t a traditional musical. “It’s a Cirque du Soleil kind of modern ballet,” she explains, one that infuses African, samba, classical and Arabic, among other cultural flavors. Also threaded with the spontaneity and improvisation of a funk/rock concert, Golden Child will be an immersive experience, performed in a yet-unnamed Los Angeles venue where the audience will sit in the center. “It’s almost like an installation,” says Hill, “celebrating the collaboration between art, fashion and music.”
Filmed in Los Angeles and directed by award-winning filmmaker Jon Jon “JJ” Augustavo, the rollicking “The Pepper Club” video introduces some of the characters that will appear in the live musical. The video cast includes choreographers Bradley Rapier and Tessandra Chavez, So You Think You Can Dancechamp Lex Ishimoto and fellow season 14 finalist and Ishimoto’s girlfriend Taylor Sieve. The Pepper Club itself is an obscure speakeasy in the desert where everyone can be accepted for themselves.