Louisville Magazine

MAR 2019

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 3.19 53 harp payments. Hill says she was gigging as a harpist by age 10 and, not long after, played in the Louisville Orchestra. "I was crazy-young when I did that," she says. "In my memory, I was like 12." She remembers her father sitting her in front of his vast record collection — everything from Woody Guthrie to every Depeche Mode album — and quizzing her about lyrics. One time, he asked her to explain the meaning of the song "e Naughty Lady of Shady Lane." Her answer: "is lady who does bad things and is scan- dalous." Wrong. e near-naked person kissing married men is an infant. "You can't just listen to one line and think you know what the song's about," she says. "at really struck me." At her grandmother's house in Gridley, Illinois, Hill, her sister and their cousins would put on bi-annual theater produc- tions, including A Christmas Carol, a play she'd see every year with her father in the second row of the balcony at Actors eatre. (ey had season tickets until she left for New York.) "I remember Marley's chains were cut out of paper," Hill says of the performances at her grandmother's. "We'd use a bedspread with fringes (for a cloak)." Hill says she skipped fourth grade and graduated high school early at 16. (is is one of the only times she mentions her age to me. As I try to construct the timeline of her life, she responds, "A timeline that does not reveal my age is the challenge.") Around the time Hill earned her driver's license, her sister, Heather Arielle, recalls heading down a dark road toward a brick wall. Hill turned off the headlights, and her sister let out a horror-movie wail. "She didn't turn those lights on until she felt like it," Heather Arielle says. When she did, the wall was a few feet away. "She is a little wild," Heather Arielle says. "She does push boundaries." Hill began studying theater and music at Syracuse University, where she earned her Actors' Equity Association card — proof, she says, that you've "made it" as an actress — for her role as Bianca in e Taming of the Shrew before touring with Randy Newman's Faust. When Titanic premiered on Broadway in 1997, she had the role of Kate Mullins (no, not that Kate), and she performed in the 1998 revival of Cabaret, both of which led to performances at the Tony Awards. She has a way of skipping to the next achievement without further comment. In early November, she postponed an interview for this story because she landed a spot in Josh Groban's orchestra in New York. On harp, she once played an Aretha Franklin song for Aretha Franklin, and Seal's "Kiss From a Rose" at an event for Hillary Clinton. She made enough money on post-Regis Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? to buy a $30,000 vintage soundboard. (She says the $120,000 question she missed is "extremely painful" for her. "I will tell you that it concerned an event that took place in 1845," she says. "If it had been a Civil War question, I would have aced it.") Oh, and she doesn't need six degrees of separation to get to Kevin Bacon. Hill was in the 1999 movie Cradle Will Rock, which was directed by Tim Robbins, who starred in Mystic River with Bacon. Bill Murray, who was also in Cradle Will Rock, once gave Hill a pair of wax lips. Right before this piece was published, Hill forwarded a link to a story on People's website about the New York baby shower for Meghan Markle, Prince Harry's wife. It included a picture of Hill wheeling her harp into the venue. She says, "Can't say anything about it." During the early 2000s, Hill tran- sitioned back to music and, she says, turned down an opportunity to be in the ensemble of oroughly Modern Millie's 2002 Broadway debut. "I still can't believe I did that," she says, wide-eyed. "I was thinking: I love singing and playing the harp; I'd rather be doing that than eight shows a week." She had started playing with a Beatles cover band called the Fab Faux, founded by Late Show with David Letterman bassist Will Lee. e band needed a harpist for the Sgt. Pepper's song "She's Leaving Home." "e first person who sets the tone and the tempo for the whole song is the harp," Lee says. "I think she must have a perfect metronome in her body or something, because as soon as she starts to play, it is the exact right tempo. I started thinking to myself, 'Where did this person come from?' "She's truly a renaissance human." Hill started her own label, Gridley Records, with her husband Mike Nolan, whom she met during a show he wrote the music for and she was acting in. (Nolan moonlights as an architecture professor at the New York Institute of Technology.) In 2002, she released Frost as Desired, her first album of originals. e cover shows a tween redhead girl cutting a cake shaped like a pile of LPs for a young- er, brown-haired girl modeled after Hill's sister. e soft, unabashed feminist an- them "Favorite Girl" is the closer. "If you want something done right," she sings in her clear soprano, "you've got to do it yourself." Frost as Desired doesn't feature much harp. In fact, Hill says the first song she wrote on harp, "I'm So Glad," was the result of laziness — she didn't want to go over to the piano, and the harp was right there. e song's opening lines are from Hill as the "Pretty White Girl" on Chappelle's Show in 2003.

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