Legal Battle Over 'Voice' Singer Jumps From Kim Jong Un to Prince

After Judith Glory Hill sues her record label for fraud, Jolene Cherry responds with a lawsuit against Prince for interference.
Adam Taylor/NBC

Judith Glory Hill, a singer who became prominent as a contestant on The Voice after performing backup vocals for artists such as Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Michael Jackson, is the subject of two lawsuits filed this week.

In one, the music company run by Jolene Cherry is blaming superstar artist Prince for allegedly interfering in a contractual relationship and damaging prospects for Cherry's first album by releasing it digitally for free.

According to the complaint filed in L.A. Superior Court on Friday, Hill signed an exclusive recording agreement with a joint venture between Sony and The Cherry Party after appearing on The Voice in 2013. Cherry, a talent scout who takes credit for discovering Lady Gaga, says her relationship with Sony was later restructured and that The Cherry Party became a successor-in-interest to rights under the recording agreement.

Hill's deal is said to have required the singer to make four albums, but prior to the restructuring, there were rumors that she was meeting with Prince.

Cherry says that she rejected Hill's request to record and release an album with Prince and earlier this month, sent Hill a warning that working with Prince would violate the recording agreement.

According to the lawsuit, "The Cherry Party is informed and believes, and on that basis alleges, that Hill and Prince boldly and inexplicably ignored these warnings (and the law) and continued to proceed. Indeed, not only did Hill and Prince finish an album of 11 songs, but they also played that music for a group of reporters and then proceeded to release it on the Internet as a free digital download."

The complaint adds that Live Nation later tweeted, "#NewMusicTuesday gift from Prince to YOU! Check out @Judith_Hill's debut album 'BACK IN TIME'"

Now that this has happened and the press is "flooded with articles labeling Prince as Hill's 'producer' and the album Back in Time as 'his project,' " Cherry has filed a complaint alleging intentional interference with contractual relations. Represented by attorney Larry Stein, the plaintiff is demanding compensatory and punitive damages for making "it economically unfeasible for them to ever release Hill's 'first album' or their recordings of songs … which Hill had already recorded for The Cherry Party."

A spokesperson for Prince wasn't immediately available for comment, but Hill herself filed a lawsuit earlier in the week against Cherry that provides a different version of what occurred.

In her lawsuit, lodged in New York Supreme Court, the singer says that after the record deal was signed, Sony cut ties with Cherry, who "proved to be incompetent, erratic, unstable and wholly unable to perform the obligations that Ms. Hill had been promised both orally and in writing."

Cherry allegedly had said she was "sick of the music business and all of its trash" and disappeared.

Hill, who also appeared in the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, says she was "abandoned." Consequenty, Hill says she did her own thing before Cherry attempted control.

It's also reported that Cherry wanted Sony to become interested in a Hill parody song titled "James Franco," timed for release of The Interview, and that after Sony got hacked, Cherry allegedly had an "imposter publicist" plant a story in the New York Post about the song.

On January 2, 2015, the newspaper ran a story headlined, "Sony singer writes 'love letter' to Kim Jong Un."

"No artist can be expected to perform for a label which intentionally smears its own artist's reputation and violates, without remorse, the artist's core believes," states Hill's complaint from Scott Himes of Ballard Spahr alleging defamation, fraud and breach of contract.

Email: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner

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