NEW YORK (AFP) – The endorsement was prestigious, if unconventional. Prince has produced the debut album of R&B singer Judith Hill and has launched a personal campaign to promote it.
The Purple One sent a message to music journalists on Monday asking them to listen to Hill s album, “Back in Time,” which will come out shortly.
The email featured a baby picture of the 31-year-old Hill — best known for her performance on the television singing contest “The Voice” — playing a toy piano.
“Loox like her parents, who r also musicians- had a plan. Well, that plan succeeded,” wrote Prince, whose spelling is often idiosyncratic.
“Back in Time,” recorded with Prince at his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota, stays true to its name by opening with a scratchy record snippet on “When Trains Go By” followed by a funky bassline.
The album shows further identifiable signs of Prince s rhythms on tracks such as “Wild Tonight” and the more pop “Angel in the Dark.”
But Hill, once chosen as a backup singer to Michael Jackson, shows the full richness of her voice on stripped-back, old-fashioned R&B songs such as “Cry, Cry, Cry.”
Prince first played the album on Sunday when he invited a handful of reporters from Minneapolis-area news organizations, with hours notice, to take the icy roads to Paisley Park for a special event.
According to the Star Tribune, Prince said he learned of Hill when watching a video in which she said she would like to work with him.
He met her last year in Los Angeles and agreed to produce her when she cited the pioneering funk band Sly and the Family Stone as a musical influence, according to the daily.
The City Pages alternative weekly said that Prince asked the reporters for advice on how to share Hill s album with the world and seemed unfamiliar with Spotify, the growing online streaming service.
Prince remains prolific at age 56 and last year released two albums simultaneously, one with his all-female collaborating band 3rdEyeGirl.
He is on a “tour” of the United States in which he is announcing shows at the last minute.
He started the “Hit and Run Tour” this month in Louisville, Kentucky, where he played four shows over two days that featured his classics such as “Let s Go Crazy,” “Little Red Corvette,” “1999” and “Kiss.”