Pitch perfect – acclaimed musician Val Hill
VAL Hill has one of the most romantic jobs in the world as a wedding singer at the North-East’s most luxurious venues.
Reliant on just her voice and an acoustic guitar she creates an emotional ambience that’s become so popular with newlyweds, she now shares the biggest day of their lives with around 50 couples each year.
Her career may have taken a very different path however, if her supportive family hadn’t clubbed together to pay for Val to have a session in a recording studio to try and fulfill her dream of becoming a professional musician.
As the youngest of 10 children living in Hartlepool, Val grew up in a musical (noisy) household, she was given a guitar aged 14, learnt to play it herself and has never put it down. She was a member of Hartlepool Youth Choir and played brass instruments, while her parents both played in Hartlepool Silver Band and her grandmother, Violet was a singer and a piano teacher who taught best-selling author and former politican Jeffrey Archer to play.
After her sister organised her first recording sesson at the age of 29, Val, armed with 10 copies of her first ever CD, nervously took them around pubs in Yarm.
“I’d never done any gigs or sung anywhere apart from church but I soon got a weekly slot at the former River Lounge with a repertoire of about 20 songs while still holding down a full time job. Each week I would learn five more songs, it was a real confidence booster as it was the same people coming back to listen every week,” she remembered.
After having her daughters Bethany and Samantha (now 10 and seven), she realised that she couldn’t raise two little girls while juggling two jobs so handed in her notice at her day shift and contacted business training provider, Enterprise Made Simple to talk through her start-up ideas.
When she was connected with Enterprise Made Simple, Val accessed funding from Business Link, Five Lamps, Working Links & Stockton Council which enabled her to buy her first professional Bose sound system – the one she still uses six years later.
Now she’s a preferred wedding singer at many prestigious venues across the region including Rockliffe Hall, Wynyard Hall, Seaham Hall, The Black Swan in Helmsley and The Star Inn at Harome, she also has a residency at The Clubhouse at Rockliffe Hall and regular bookings at many lovely venues across the North East & North Yorkshire.
“I like to stick to classics but I can alter more unusual requests to suit my voice,” explained Val who was a Regional Finalist for Best Musical Act at The Wedding Industry Awards 2015.
She now has an impressive 450 songs in her repertoire although the one most requested by brides is A Thousand Years by Christina Perri, the wedding song with beautiful lyrics from the Twilight saga films.
After playing at 11 weddings during her first year, she is now so in demand for ceremonies and receptions that she has bookings for 50 weddings this year ranging from big nuptials to small, intimate gatherings.
“I would like to write my own songs one day but content with my busy schedule and time with my children for now. My sister said the other day that she felt really happy that the family had been part of the start of my career and I’ll never forget that this probably wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for them.
“When I started six years ago I aspired to play at venues such as Rockliffe Hall but found it quite daunting however, now I’m performing in the Clubhouse there every week. I feel so lucky that I can do something I really love and make a living from it.”
Website: Val Hill vocalist
Facebook: Val Hill