#CMchat Exclusive Interview: Clark Hill

Look through singer Clark Hill’s family photo albums and you’ll see how deep music runs in his family. His Papa was a studio guitarist in Nashville and his Dad was in a band. Both chose to end their professional music careers and move back to their hometown as their respective families grew in size.

Growing up in Florida, Hill worked on the family farm. His main interests in high school were football and weightlifting. He enjoyed music – Vince Gill, Johnny Cash, Hank Jr. – but never thought it would have anything to do with his future. He earned his EMT Fireman before he got his diploma and began work as a paramedic right out of school.

Family first. As a young parent with two children, his focus wasn’t on himself.

“I kept searching for something I could achieve, some mark I could leave. That would be the greatest thing I could do for my kids.”

What was the turning point that led Hill to pursue a music career? It was a moment of ‘wisdom’ – as in tooth extraction. Details of the procedure gone badly linger in his memory, as does the offer from his brother-in-law to join his cover band on the road. He brushed the dust off his guitar and began writing songs too.

Long story short, people liked it. Almost that quick, man, they became fans and started coming to shows just to watch my acoustic set an hour and a half into the show. I noticed that people were listening to me. They paid attention to the stories I wrote into my songs, they wanted to know more. Right then, I felt I’d found what I’d been looking for.”

‘Beginning in second grade, Hill took the initiative to perform in local talent shows as an Elvis Presley impersonator—hair dyed black, jumpsuit, the whole package.’

How did you choose Elvis to impersonate? What cover songs are your favorites to perform now?

Elvis kinda just happened. I love him so much and as a kid just started trying to be like him. sometimes I felt more like myself when doing Elvis than any other time. but my favorite cover song to perform is ‘Simple Man‘ by Lynyrd Skynyrd.”

You’re a Florida native. Growing up did you go to all the state’s festivals? What are your favorite concert memories? 

 “I didnt even attend my first concert until I had started playing music in my mid-late 20’s. As for my favorite concert memories, I woikd say it would be taking my son to see Garth Brooks. by far he is the type of entertainer I aspire to be along with Elvis lol, but I can actually go to his shows and it not be business and just enjoy the moment!”

You write about the influence your family has had on your career. Have you written a song about them? If so, will it be on your upcoming album?

“The very first song I wrote was about my papa who passed because of cancer. it was a very personal song that is the reason I started to believe people would listen to my music and stories. it wont be on my album but it is something that gets pulled out for special occasions.” 

You speak of your family’s support as you pursue your dream. When you do get downtime off the road, what are your favorite activities with them?

“Without my family there is no way I could do this. so when I am spending time with them its whatever we can pull off. Finances are still a struggle so we often times end up just finding a way to make things with whatever presents its self. When we can pull it off though we are a pretty high energy family most of the time. my wife is often happy with simply some good cuddles and a cute dinner. with the kids we do everything from college football games, to plays, movies, mountain biking, kayaking, deep sea fishing … you name it.  They’re working just as hard in their own ways for this career not to mention their busy lives, so I like to reward them with experiencing as much as possible.” 

Five years ago, new to Nashville, Hill met Craig Morgan – who introduced him to his drummer Mike Rogers. Hill and Rogers became fast friends and planned to work together on an album, with Rogers as the producer.

“We agreed that this would be about me finding my natural sound without forcing anything. Mikey grew up in the outskirts of Myrtle Beach, so we both came from the same small-town, family-oriented place.”

Their first collaboration was the album People Like Me. Hill went on his first USO tour last year.

Your current single “Perfect To Me” – When it was pitched to you what was the first thing that you connected to? Were you there when Chris Young and Mike Rogers wrote the song during a series of USO performances?

“I wasn’t there when it was written. but I do feel a very deep connection to this one. I think ultimately what stood out to me was how sincere it was. a real life story with real life meaning.” 

I read that the video for your single will be coming out soon. Were you involved in the scripting of the video? 

“I am involved yes. I love being involved in all aspects of what im doing. its good to always have that lil Clark Hill twist on things.”

 

Author: Donna Block

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