Every year, In Concert for Cancer features a Grammy-winning or Grammy-nominated performer at its annual concert and this year’s event will be no different.
The concert — which is set for 7:30 p.m., Sept. 9 at the Kirkland Performance Center — will feature Judith Hill.
“We’re just so excited to welcome her,” said Michele Abrams, longtime Kirkland resident and founder and executive producer of In Concert for Cancer.
Born in North Hollywood to a classically trained pianist mother from Tokyo and a funk musician father who has played with greats including Sly and the Family Stone, Hill has been recording music with her parents since she was 4.
“I grew up singing in church choirs and school festivals and went on to receive a degree in music composition at Biola University (in La Mirada, California),” she said.
Hill’s musical journey has also included being a contestant on the fourth season of NBC’s “The Voice” and having her story told in 2013 in “20 Feet from Stardom,” a documentary that highlights backup singers behind some of the biggest musical names of the 21st century. The documentary went on to win an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2014 and a Grammy for Best Music Film in 2015.
“On my journey, I’ve had the honor of working with many incredible legends including Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Prince,” Hill said.
In addition to working with such renowned musicians, Hill’s debut album, “Back in Time,” was produced by the Purple One himself and recorded at his private estate, Paisley Park.
And while Hill has performed with some big names who are familiar to most people, her performance in Kirkland will feature a couple names that are more familiar to her. This is because the evening’s music will also feature both of Hill’s parents, who will be taking the stage alongside her.
Abrams said Hill’s family performance will be particularly special as music has played a significant role in the singer’s life during a difficult time.
“My mom is a cancer survivor,” Hill said.
Her mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 and as with most families who face cancer diagnoses, the time period that followed was trying.
In a 2016 HuffPost article, Hill wrote about her experiences during her mother’s battle with cancer and how during one particularly difficult time she wrote the song “Cry Cry Cry,” which she sang to her mother while in the hospital. Hill’s mother loved the song and encouraged her to record it. The song was the first single off of her album.
This instance of music bringing a person happiness is what Abrams works to create with In Concert for Cancer.
“(It’s) all about sharing the joy of music to lift the spirits of cancer patients, survivors and the greater community,” she said.
Abrams lost both of her parents to cancer — her father 20 years ago and her mother 10 years ago — and following their deaths, wanted to do something to help the fight.
The veteran concert producer said music always brings people together so she decided to use that as a platform of awareness and create a music-oriented charity.
According to the In Concert for Cancer website, the funds raised through its events go toward the Ben Towne Center for Childhood Cancer Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
Abrams said specifically, In Concert for Cancer funds go toward research about immunotherapy.
“It’s a game changer in curing cancer,” she said, adding that there has been so much progress and more people have gone into remission or have been cured of cancer since her parents’ battles.
In addition to Hill’s performance, the upcoming concert in Kirkland will feature a doctor from the institute to briefly discuss their research.
Abrams said the event, which is in its sixth year, is a celebratory one.
“I think this show will be a very uplifting event to encourage anyone who is battling with cancer,” she said. “We want to fill the night with dancing and celebration as well as let people know they are not alone. I have performed in Seattle a few years back when I was opening for Josh Groban at the Key Arena. I’m really looking forward to playing at the Kirkland. I know it’s gonna be one funky and festive experience!”
Kirkland Performance Center is located at 350 Kirkland Ave. For tickets, visit tinyurl.com/ycfztb6k.