From the early years of learning the craft of the violin to 31 years of musical experience, Dr. Melanie R. Hill is a Gospel Soul violinist who has performed at the White House on two occasions under the Obama administration, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the NAACP’s Annual Convention, the Apollo Theater in New York, the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and other venues. She was featured on the syndicated talk show, Sister Circle Live on TV One and has performed on several occasions for Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple. She is a multi-time, first-place winner at the Apollo Theater in New York and has been featured as a performer for the National Council of Churches, Showtime at the Apollo, The Quincy Harris Show, Good Day Philadelphia, NBC 10, Philadelphia Style magazine, NY1, BET, and TV One. Recently, Dr. Hill’s violin work was featured on Busta Rhymes’s latest album, “Wrath of God.” In addition, she’s performed the National Anthem on her violin for the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers. Dr. Hill has also performed for newly-elected Senator Reverend Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, Ms. Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Mrs. Susan L. Taylor, and opened for John Legend. Additionally, Dr. Hill was a featured performer for Pope Francis’s Papal Mass during his historic visit to the United States.
In 2020, Dr. Hill was invited to perform and share her scholarship of James Baldwin in the Oprah Winfrey Theater at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
Recently, in honor of precious lives lost during the pandemic, Dr. Hill opened for the National Council of Churches before the sermon of Bishop Michael B. Curry, the presiding Bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church.
In addition to her music, Dr. Hill is Assistant Professor of American Literature in the Department of English at Rutgers University, Newark. Dr. Hill received her Ph.D. in English Literature with two graduate certificates in Africana Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a second Master’s degree in Literature from George Mason University, and a B.A. in English with a minor in Spanish from the University of Virginia. As her research focuses on the intersection of African American literature, Music, and Black theology, Dr. Hill is a reviewer for the Yale Journal of Music and Religion. She has written articles on black feminism and the sermon as sonic art in James Baldwin’s "The Amen Corner", as well as Bessie Smith and Ella Fitzgerald under the Religions Journal and Oxford University Press, respectively. Under contract with the University of North Carolina Press (UNC Press), her forthcoming manuscript entitled, "Colored Women Sittin’ on High: Womanist Sermonic Practice in Literature and Music" focuses on the ways in which black women preachers in African American literature, music, and in the space of the pulpit counter social injustices through sermon and song.
In April 2021, Dr. Hill was awarded the Louisville Institute First Book Grant for Scholars of Color for her forthcoming manuscript, "Colored Women Sittin' on High: Womanist Sermonic Practice in Literature and Music."
Dr. Hill is grateful for God’s blessings and remains focused on sharing inspiration through her violin and spreading scholarship along the intersections of literature and music