A producer for the singer and US Voice contestant Judith Hill is taking legal action against Prince after he posted a free download link to Hill’s album via a Live Nation mailing list.
Subscribers to the mailing list received a message on 23 March with the subject line: “A note from Prince”. The email included a link to Hill’s album Back in Time and suggested its readers “spend some time with this music and then share it with someone U love.”
However, producer Jolene Cherry filed a suit on 27 March in Los Angeles which claims that Hill took music that they had been working on and instead collaborated with Prince, who went on to give the songs away for free. Cherry alleges that Hill had signed a long-term deal with her before Hill collaborated with Prince, and was thus in breach of their contract. According to Cherry’s suit, Hill formally asked permission to record with Prince, but Cherry denied this request.
“Judith Hill’s first album – Back in Time – is now out, but rather than cheering along with her, the people who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop her career and album and worked to position Hill for her first release (as well as those who co-wrote many of the songs) are sitting dumbfounded on the sidelines while Prince gives away their investment for free,” Cherry wrote in the suit.
Contrary to early reports, the lawsuit is not associated with Sony Music, which relinquished its stake in a joint venture it had with Cherry a few months ago. According to Prince’s publicist, prior to Cherry filing her lawsuit in Los Angeles, Hill’s lawyer Peter Haviland entered a lawsuit on her behalf in New York, claiming, “Judith is an independent artist, not bound by contract to anyone.”
Haviland said in a statement: “This lawsuit is crazy. Prince has done absolutely nothing wrong. Judith Hill was and is absolutely free to perform her music as she has done. She sued in New York on March 25 to confirm that she was free and to stop Cherry from continuing to bother her.
“Now in response Cherry counter-sues, in Los Angeles – improperly – even though a case is already pending against Cherry in New York.
“Prince supports, promotes and gives opportunity to truly exceptional talent like Judith Hill. It is a shame that Prince has been dragged into this insanity, but Judith Hill will not be deterred from performing her music by the likes of some Jolene Cherry.”
Hill appeared on series four of The Voice in the US and is a former backing singer for Michael Jackson. Prince saw a video clip of her on a European TV show in which she mentioned that she’d like to work with him – which led to their collaboration.
This article was written by Guardian music, for theguardian.com on Monday 30th March 2015 16.43 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010