—by Kristi Shade
Erin Hill is bringing a little theater to the harp… and a little harp to the theater. Find out what this truly one-of-a-kind harpist is all about.
I first met Erin Hill about seven years ago at a gig at the Plaza Hotel. Erin and I, along with about six other harpists, provided the ceremony music for a lavish New York City wedding. As we waited for guests to arrive, Erin looked over at me with her sparkly, enthusiastic, bright eyes and asked, “What tunes do you know? Let’s jam!” That spirit, spunk, and creativity has been a thread throughout her career. Described by Variety as “dauntingly versatile,” Erin is a harpist, singer, actor, songwriter, and self-described sci-fi geek. All of these facets of her personality seem to feed into each other to create Erin Hill, the Psychedelic Harp Girl. I met up with Erin at her Queens, N.Y., home to take a peek into her quirky, magical, musical world.
Harp Column: Erin, you are a harpist, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actor—did I leave anything out? How would you describe yourself?
Erin Hill: Well, I think you did a good job just then. [Laughs] It’s funny, at one point in my life, I was just acting and it was taking all my time. Because when you are in a Broadway show, you are doing eight shows a week and you have only one day off—and it’s Monday. What gigs happen on Monday? You just can’t do any gigs. So after I did three [Tony Award-Winning] Broadway shows as an actor, I turned down two more Broadway shows because I could see this future where I did one Broadway show after another in supporting roles—it may have been different if I had been a star—and at the end of that, I just would have been in a bunch of Broadway shows and that wasn’t going to make me happy because I wasn’t doing music—my own music, definitely—and I wasn’t getting to do harp. Singing, writing songs, and playing the harp are my three favorite things in this life. And I do love acting, but not as much as my three favorite things. So, that’s why I left my agent and made the move to music. I still do an acting gig, usually once a year. I just did some indie films. And last year I did A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Classic Stage Company with Bebe Neuwirth and Christina Ricci. Oh, that was so much fun, and we were all double cast so I got to play not only First Fairy but also a mechanical. They also put harp into Midsummer for the fairy song. It was just me playing the harp and singing the song while Bebe and the other fairies danced and rose petals fell.