Becky Hill is finally ready to step into her own spotlight. After a handful of hugely successful collaborations – with the likes of Wilkinson, Rudimental, Matoma and MK – she now finds herself a bona fide solo artist, front and centre of her own music. But it’s been a “long old slog” to get here.
Since she was a child, Becky’s innate talent for music has gotten her noticed – from wowing the judges at a youth club talent show when she was 11, to singing to punters at the end of pub shifts (“I was a shit barmaid, but my boss used to get me to sing,”). It wasn’t until she was 18, though, that she was noticed outside of her small Worcestershire town of Bewdley – when she took part in BBC talent show The Voice.
Now, she feels like a completely different person to the teenager who won over Jessie J – and the nation – in 2012. “I treated The Voice like six months of university,” she says. The show, which saw her sing in front of millions of people each week, was a crash course in performing, confirming that music was her future – but Becky knew the real work would come when she left the show. As soon as that happened, she gathered up the contacts she’d made and set about organising meetings, travelling between Bewdley and London (a sign of the dogged determination she still has to this day) to secure a manager. “We worked for about two years on my sound,” she says. “He let me have artistic vision with it. At the beginning, I didn’t know what I wanted to be.”
It comes naturally to Becky to share her emotional intimacies in song. What comes less naturally, though, is being the face of her own music. “A few years ago, I said to my manager, ‘I want my voice to be known globally, but I want my face to be known locally.’ I was really worried that I wasn’t made of strong enough stuff to subject myself to that level of scrutiny and vulnerability. Now, I feel like I can handle everything that’s going to be thrown at me. I’m still terrified, but I’ve come too far to let this all go.”
Ultimately, it’s her willingness to admit to feeling vulnerable that makes Becky’s music so relatable. “I want people to see me as normal,” she says, “because the background I’ve come from has been very normal. I want people to relate to me, instead of me being unattainable. I want people to see me out at raves, and be like, ‘Oh, hello!’ instead of there being this disconnect.” Most of all, Becky wants people to listen to her music and feel understood. “When I used to listen to music in my bedroom, my favourite thing was when it described how I was feeling. I used to never feel alone because I had a song that knew how I felt. I want people to connect with my music like that.”