Ever see those TikTok reels of ultra-talented, blindingly beautiful musical artists who powerfully belt out some potent rhymes while effortlessly gyrating in some exotic moves…and wonder, where the heck do these people come from? Well, one comes from Kingston.
Twenty-three-year old R&B artist Lawand Hill, of Kingston has one and a half million followers on TikTok, following the viral mushrooming of her third release, “Over It” on national networks MTV and BET Jams. Hill, whose career name is simply “Law,” has just released her fourth video, “Controller,” also seen on both networks, that was featured on MTV News and Power105’s “One’s To Watch” show. Much like her first release, the video has already received 130,000 views on youtube within the first two weeks, helping to contribute to over 130,000 followers on Instagram as well.
Hill, a child of Kingston, gathered the underpinnings of her career there. She writes all her own songs and lyrics; plays the piano and guitar; and even contributes to the impressive dance choreography seen in her videos. Each skill was either self-taught or came by early training through community or school programming: self-taught piano beginning at age four, guitar lessons at the Everett Hodge Midtown Community Center at age seven, five years of school cheerleading, midtown’s Center for Creative Education’s Energy Dance Camps, Kingston High School (KHS) choir and subsequent vocal lessons with KHS choir director Larry Lohman; self-taught songwriting and more.
Hill says her relationship with Kingston these days is purely as a tourist, albeit an appreciative one, now that she sees the restaurants, artsy stores, and the city’s unique character from the outside, looking in. She visits her Kingston family frequently and they spread the excitement about her success all over Kingston.
Hill’s mother Charlene Laday-Hill of Kingston said her daughter grew up singing in church choirs, yet hid behind the scenes. “One day I saw a report from her high school choir director saying that she has the potential to be the next Whitney Houston,” said Laday-Hill. “So I decide to come home early one day and talk to her about this when I hear her all the way from the front door and she is singing in her bedroom. I opened up the door and tell her you’re going to be singing before I preach next Sunday.” Hill panicked, protesting that she was not ready, to which her mother replied, “Oh no, you’re ready.” Laday-Hill said that Sunday church members were surprised to see Hill in the program, but the moment young Hill opened her mouth to sing acapella “they were blown away and she sang before I preach pretty much ever since.”
“The first time I met Lawand, she was around seven years old and was helping her mom with the Summer Sizzle Basketball League down at Rondout Gardens,” says Megan Weiss, a former Program Director at the Everett Hodge Community Center on Franklin Street in Kingston, and who’s now a Project Coordinator at the Novo Foundation. “I was heading out for the night and couldn’t find my keys anywhere. I will always remember Lawand searching for them long after I had given up. Her face was beaming with pride (and a little ‘I told you so!’) when she handed them to me. That was when I learned that Lawand never gives up.”
The talent, drive, power and passion are where Hill starts and ends, as she attributes much of her career’s success to her talent team Sloppy Vinyl — an artist development outfit that offers services ranging from content-creation, branding and marketing, choreography, costuming stylists, and recording services for trending or want-to-be trending artists. Hill sought out their polishing skills after seeing them credited for helping a YouTube influencer. She signed with them at the tender age of 19 while doing YouTube covers, vacating her first semester at Dutchess Community College to pursue her career full time.
But full time hours amount to less than part time when it comes to a performing arts career, as every bit of Hill’s day goes into her profession. “I am working on my music whatever hours I am not sleeping,” she said. “My career is my lifestyle. Everything I do is somehow embedded into my life and day.” She added that social media requires a significant chunk of time that most aspiring performers easily underestimate.
“Lawand has always been gifted in music,” said Weiss. “She would sing and dance and play piano for hours. She would interrupt a song she was singing from the radio and wonder aloud why the writer would write lyrics a certain way before jumping back into the song without missing a beat. She used to sing to me he song ‘1985,’ the year I was born, by Bowling for Soup. I can still hear her giggling while belting out the chorus. Even at a young age she could switch from singing a modern rock hit to a power ballad to a pop anthem seamlessly.”
Hill has advice for some of those aspiring artists — some of whom are attending the Hodge Center at this moment. “Here is ‘little me’ coming up to me now: I would advise them to believe in themselves, especially kids from those neighborhoods, they might not have someone encouraging them,” she said. “If they believe in themselves, then everyone else will. If they don’t, then no one will. Perfect whatever it is they are doing. Get training. Even if you think you are gifted and have a natural ability, you should still want to grow the gift you have. Just because you do it doesn’t mean you can’t do it better. Don’t wait for a magic fairy to come to your door — you have to work super hard to get out there and show people who you really are.”
To cheer on our fellow Kingstonian, you can follow Law on Instagram at: @lawandmusic