By Gary Lloyd
Jordan Hill has impressed Simon Cowell.
The often cross-armed, stone-faced television star is accustomed to making wannabes cry, humiliating teens on national television. Performers are afraid of him, and reality TV fanatics love to hate him.
Hill, a Pinson Valley High School sophomore, performed last spring in Greensboro, N.C., for the judges of “The X-Factor,” a reality TV show created by Cowell similar to “American Idol.” Hill sang Gavin DeGraw’s “Not Over You” set to music and Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road” a cappella
Hill moved on to the show’s Boot Camp in Miami, where he performed Jason Aldean’s “She’s Country.” Hill was part of a group that was sent home just before the live TV shows began. Hill said the judges’ feedback included wanting him to be himself more and gain more comfortability on stage.
“I was a little shaky, little nervous,” Hill said.
Cowell suggested Hill continue to make inroads in country music. Hill said he wants to continue to perform a variety of genres. He has the talent to do so. He raps and rhymes. He covers country songs while strumming his guitar strings and pop songs while pushing piano keys. He writes songs about girls because what else do 15-year-old boys think about?He also writes his own religious songs.
Hill, who turns 16 on July 1, started singing at church when he was 6, began piano lessons with his grandmother a couple years later and then taught himself how to play guitar.
Music is almost part of the Hill family genealogy. His grandfather, Jim Hill, started a career in the piano business in the early 1970s and is the pastor at Grandview Baptist Church in Pinson. The pastor is married to Julia Hill, who is the church’s pianist. Randy Lolly is Hill’s grandfather on his mother’s side, and his influence guided the Pinson Valley sophomore to the guitar. Of the four songs Hill has written, one was written with his dad.
“I just felt a drawing toward it, and I feel like that’s God’s plan for me,” Hill said of his music career. “(Music) is an escape. It’s that natural high that you get. It’s a way to express yourself.”
Hill plays the keyboard, guitar and occasionally the drums in the worship and praise band at Grandview Baptist. He’s also in the high school’s chamber choir. Pinson Valley High School Choral Director Rachel Smith sees Hill potentially being an actor, too.
“Jordan is a talented vocalist and instrumentalist,” Smith said. “He accompanied our girls’ ensemble last year on guitar. Not only is he a fine musician, but he is dependable, too. You can give him a piece of music to learn, and you can consider it done.”
Smith said Hill isn’t just concerned with singing the right notes and rhythms, but he wants to shape the musical phrase and he pays attention to dynamic markings.
“I can’t think of Jordan without thinking of music,” she said. “It is just so much a part of who he is. Jordan is also humble about his talents and he is gracious about any performance opportunity he may have.”
You can watch Hill perform songs such as Zac Brown Band’s “No Hurry” and Luke Bryan’s “Drunk On You” at his YouTube channel, JordanHill 9720.
“I’m really feeling a drawing toward (music),” Hill said. “I feel like this is where I’m headed in life.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.