The first time I heard Hillary Jane was a pleasant surprise. I came across her on YouTube singing a cover of, “Long Way Down,” originally done by Christon Gray and Dre Murray off the W.L.A.K. album. I was mesmerized by how soulful her voice was without effort. It is like honey for the soul. Don’t get it wrong, this 20 year old beauty is not just a talented singer but she raps and plays the guitar. Needless to say, I knew her album was inevitable.
“Stix and Stones,” her first EP was released to the world on July 29, 2014. The seven tracks range from R&B to soul infused with rap.
I got a chance to interview HillaryJane.
WM: What artists and music have inspired/influenced you?
HillaryJ: Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliot are two of my biggest inspirations. They aren't afraid to be themselves, whether it is a spiritual person (Lauryn) or a creative, out of the box person (Missy).
WM: Would you share a little bit of your testimony and how you came to know Jesus personally?
HillaryJ: I was raised in the church, but when I was 15 I decided to rededicate my life to Christ. It was nothing super drastic, I was just sitting in a chair during the sermon, I can't remember what the pastor was even preaching about, but it wasn't Salvation and I didn't go to any alter call. I was just sitting there, the Holy Spirit drew me to Himself and I started weeping. It was never the same again.
WM: What is one of the biggest hurdles you've had to climb in your life?
HillaryJ: Certain sins that hold you down. When you're a Christian and you have major sins that seem to plague your life and you can't get rid of them, you feel worthless. You feel like maybe you aren't even saved… which isn't the case at all. Thank God I've finally overcome them!
WM: What is one of your favorite scripture verse and why?
HillaryJ: 1 Corinthians 13:12 "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." I promise I could start preaching a sermon off of this verse ha ha! I love it because its what its all about. Jesus sees us and knows us, we can see him partially because of sin, but one day we get to be right there with Him, sin will be no more, and His majesty will shine on us. That’s all I want.
WM: Congratulations on the album, "Stix and Stones." How were you discovered by Infiltrate Music?
HillaryJ: They were starting a label and staff member of Rapzilla had heard about me. Chad Horton sends me a DM, then an email, and then called me; said he saw potential in me, and after like 4 days of prayer, I decided to accept His offer. Life hasn't been the same since.
WM: What is your favorite track off "Stix and Stones?" Why?
HillaryJ: The title track, Stix and Stones, I love the chill vibe, I love the message, I love that the Lord put the creativity in my heart to write about my heart and life experiences. I was majorly bullied in middle school. That’s the physical side. And then the spiritual side is when non-believers don't want to accept, but instead throw stones… "I only want to take you to a Royal Crowning"
WM: The first track off the album is, "Chimneys." Can you tell the readers the background on that song, the meaning of and how it relates to your life?
HillaryJ: Chimneys is a fun song, but it’s also packed with confidence in Christ. The Devil is a liar and blows smoke and as a believer you daily have to have the courage to stand up and say, I'm getting out of the smoke to where I can finally breathe, next to Jesus. It relates to me because of what I mentioned earlier. There has been some deep rooted sin in my life that I had to battle for years. I was so sick of the lies. And only surrendering to my King got me out.
WM: Have you faced any challenges being a female artist as well as a Christian in the music industry?
HillaryJ: The biggest challenge isn't being in a male dominated genre, it’s actually desiring to be a good role model for women. You have to watch your every move. When you're on a platform people love to watch and point and assume. I try to stay blameless, but people can always make something out of nothing. And to most Christians, if you do anything that isn't screaming Jesus, you're not Christian. Like my song "Shotgun" is a love song about a Godly relationship, but some people aren't having that.
WM: How do you stay grounded and focused on the Kingdom vs the World in an industry that can push you to be more worldly than Godly?
HillaryJ: That’s crazy you say that because it’s been on my mind a lot lately. It’s weird how as Christians, we are supposed to make less of ourselves, but as an artist you have to make more of yourself to sell, which gives you show opportunities and ministry opportunities. It’s a vicious cycle for someone who doesn't constantly have their heart in check. The attention can be very overwhelming, especially for someone like me who wasn't used to getting attention growing up. I just remember why I love to do this, WHO I love to do this for. Read, pray, stay in community.
WM: In another interview you mentioned that you "couldn't carry a tune until 9th grade." Seriously? (Gives me hope ha ha!) Is that true for your rapping skills as well? Can you tell us a little more about that?
HillaryJ: Ha Ha! That’s a completely true statement! I honestly believe when God became Lord of my heart he placed this in me out of nowhere and I felt like this is how He wanted to use me from then on. As far as rapping, I’ve always had a way with words and writing. I’d get perfect scores on all my papers and tests in school. And around 5th grade I started to play around with my dude friends rhyming. I was pretty good at it. It’s always been a little fun thing I've liked.
WM: You did a song "Not for Sale" about human trafficking on the "Stop The Traffic" album. How did you get involved with that and that cause? Why is that cause important to you?
HillaryJ: Well, I grew up in Houston, Texas which is the #1 port for human trafficking in the US. I was always hearing about it and when Rapzilla reached out to me to be a part of it, I was excited to finally do a small little something to help bring awareness!
WM: The metaphors you use in your writing are incredible. How long have you been writing?
HillaryJ: My whole life. I love writing. I use to want to be a journalist for a little minute, but when I was asked to write for a website; I did one article and was like nah. I want to write what I want to write about lol. If it wasn't from the heart it wasn't fun. That’s why I feel so blessed to be an artist. I get to write my own music and that’s my job. Thank You Jesus!
WM: Any other passions besides music?
HillaryJ: Ummm sleeping (lol)? I love to sleep, I would say I’m passionate about it! But seriously, Homeless missions. Whether that be local or foreign, I was homeless with my mother in the womb and I’ve not had a solid place to stay a few times in my life. I can't say I've ever hit rock bottom, praise God, But I have a small little taste in my heart of how these people do feel and I love them, and I want them to know Jesus hasn't forgotten them.
WM: At the age of 20 you have so much confidence. Have you always been confident? Do you have any advice for those who may be struggling with confidence?
HillaryJ: I have not always been. At times I was trying to find confidence and I would mistake it for being mean. Because a mean/angry person seems like they have it all together and doesn't need anyone. But real confidence is understanding humans DO need people, and we definitely need Jesus. And in the end, He is in control of the most important thing ever- salvation. If we had that and nothing else, we would have it all, so what else is there to be unsettled about? I have waves of not being confident like most women, but it doesn't own me. I’m not longer a slave to it.
Okay, a couple quick questions, just for fun:
WM: If your life was a reality show, what would it be called?
HillaryJ: "Just Jane"
WM: Favorite movie?
HillaryJ: Braveheart, but my mom would say I watched Forest Gump like 200 times growing up.
WM: Coffee or tea?
HillaryJ: Depends on the mood. Both!
WM: Current obsession?
HillaryJ: Emoji’s, I just got an iPhone and I use them like they are a language of their own lol. My friends get annoyed
HillaryJ: HJ or Hills. My mom calls me Hillbug, and my daddy calls me Hillster (lol).