Lipscomb alumnus Glenn Hill is living the dream, literally. The 22-year-old Memphis native received the call of a lifetime when he was offered a position to play in Kelly Clarkson’s band, an opportunity he says was orchestrated by God.
It all began with a dream Hill says he had about a year and a half ago, in which he was onstage playing trombone in an arena for an artist.
“I did not know who the artist was in my dream,” Hill says, “but I believe God gave it to me to foreshadow what He had planned for me.”
Hill, who has been playing trombone since the age of 12, moved to Nashville in 2013 to attend Lipscomb, majoring in finance and minoring in music, but his heart was always set on music.
“I minored in music because my parents would not let me be a music major,” he explains. “Ever since my senior year of high school I wanted to do music in some way.”
That want was answered in the form of a telephone call last summer, a call that Hill remembers like it was yesterday.
“It was Saturday, July 29th around 12:45 in the afternoon. I was at home in Memphis, chilling in the den with my dad. He was taking a nap, and I was reading a book. I got a phone call from an unknown number. I usually do not answer those, so I let the phone ring, and the caller left a voicemail.”
The call turned out to be from a man named Leif Shires, a trumpet player in Nashville. Shires had heard Hill was a trombone player and was calling to see if he would be available for a major tour in the fall, running from the beginning of September until the end of the year. When Hill called Shires back and found out who the undisclosed artist was, his jaw dropped.
“Half of me thought it was a joke,” he says with a laugh, “but the other half knew it was serious, based on how the conversation had been going…This was the moment that some musicians work their entire life for and there it was at my feet at 22. The timing was perfect. I had to say yes. If I said no, I would regret my decision for the rest of my life. That phone call changed my life.”
One of the hardest parts of accepting the position, Hill explains, was having to wait to tell everyone about it until a month later. Making things even more difficult, Hill had already been offered and accepted a position at Lipscomb as the intramural sports graduate assistant, which would also allow him to attend graduate school to get a master’s degree in civic leadership for free.
“It was the opportunity of a lifetime that I had received a few months prior, then had to turn down for an even greater opportunity,” he says. “I was overwhelmed by these blessings.”
A couple of weeks later, Hill was thrown into the big leagues.
“Imagine going from playing shows in college with your friends to walking in to a band of 11 other professional musicians that play for Kelly Clarkson — an artist who I remember seeing on American Idol when I was six years old — being the youngest member of the band and basically auditioning for a week! You could say that’s pressure, but I had been prepared for this opportunity. God gave it to me, and all I had to do was be prepared and walk in it!”
After a week of rehearsals, Hill boarded a plane to Los Angeles to start at Clarkson’s first tour stop on Sept. 3. He was finally able to tell his friends and family what he had been up to for the past month, embarking on a promotional tour for Clarkson’s latest album, Meaning of Life. Because schedules often change on a promotional tour due to television appearances that come up, the band flew to every destination, traveling to many places Hill had never been before, such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston and even to Toronto.
“The band has truly become my road family,” Hill says of his tour mates. “I hadn’t really traveled much before this and they taught me how to pack and things to do when I get to a new city….I love them all and I feel very blessed to be able to interact and learn from world-class musicians.”
Besides the arena stage, Hill has performed for Kelly making on several television broadcasts such as Today, Ellen, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Voice, the American Music Awards, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve and more.
Wonder what it’s like to work for Kelly Clarkson?
“Kelly is awesome,” Hill gushes. “She is funny and such an inclusive person. She never lets anyone feel left out. She is also 100 percent authentic. However she is on-camera is exactly how she is with the rest of the band when the cameras aren’t rolling.”
While they are not currently out on tour, Hill still plays one or two shows a month with Clarkson in between her stint as a coach on The Voice. With his down time, he continues to practice the trombone and make “beats,” being an aspiring producer.
Hill says he hopes his story can serve as encouragement for current student’s in Lipscomb’s contemporary music program.
“When I started at Lipscomb, this program did not exist,” he says. “Now students have access to learn from professional musicians, producers and artists in Nashville. The people that teach you are the same people that can hire you. If it can happen to me, it can most definitely happen to you. Be professional, learn your parts, be respectful and be able to hang! Keep grinding! This is only just the beginning.”