Hilary Williams

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Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival, Hilary Williams, Songwriter, SMSWF, Gatlinburg, TN

Singer/songwriter Hilary Williams truly has music running through her bloodline.

Her grandfather, Hank Williams, Sr., laid the very foundation for country songwriting, and her father, Hank Williams, Jr., defined country superstardom throughout the ’80s. Through it all, they forged their own creative paths and now, Hilary carries on that family legacy with her debut album, “My Lucky Scars.”

Inspired by a devastating car accident in 2006 that nearly claimed her life, “My Lucky Scars” takes you through Hilary’s journey to overcome that near-death experience. The album’s opening track, “Angel Take My Hand” as well as “Sign of Life,” give the listener a raw look into those moments.

The balance of the album addresses navigating the complicated game of love on tracks “The Day After the Circus,”  “Shipwreck” and “Better Than Here.” Even when singing about the toll heartbreak has taken, her voice continues to shine bright, which you’ll hear on “Let Somebody Save Me,” co-written with John Paul White (Civil Wars) and Kris Bergsnes, as well as her spot-on cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.”

The list of songwriters contributing to “My Lucky Scars” reads like a who’s who among modern tunesmiths — Natalie Hemby, Ross Copperman, Heather Morgan, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Bobby Tomberlin as well as rock legend John Eddie. This album also shares a direct connection to the female rockers who shaped her in her youth. The jagged edge of Sheryl Crow’s guitar sound and the no-holds-barred lyrics of P.J. Harvey were the initial inspirations as Hilary set out to record this project along with her co-producers John Would (Fiona Apple, Lucinda Williams) and Lincoln Parish (Cage the Elephant).

By the time Hilary closes out “My Lucky Scars” with the lighthearted ode to love, “Crazy,”you feel as though you’ve gotten an intimate look at this woman’s story. It’s the tale of a woman whose life is still evolving. Lucky for us, Hilary is letting us come along for the voyage.

Hank, Jr. says “Hilary sings like a queen, like a star”. Kid Rock said about her voice, “Man, Hilary’s got the bellows!“

In 2006 Hilary was involved in a horrendous one-car accident. When the Jaws of Life finally pried Hilary’s shattered body free, she was in shock and barely breathing, suffering two broken legs, several broken ribs, a ruptured colon, bruised lungs. Her back, collarbone, tailbone, pelvis, and right femur fractured. Her hips crushed. She lost a large amount of blood waiting on the ambulance to arrive, then as EMTs scrambled to stabilize her Hilary Williams died.  But that was only the beginning.

This is a story of struggle and pain. But more so, it is a story of second chances, of love and resolve and recovery. When she was pulled back into life, Hilary’s world changed. It was the beginning of a long, courageous, and inspiring journey undergoing 23 surgeries and years of therapy learning the meaning of strength, not only the strength to survive, but the strength to live with the legend, the talent, the burden, and the privilege of her place in country music’s most famous family.

When she asked Dr. Croce if she would always be in pain. He answered, “Pain is a sign of life”. As recovery continued, Hilary began to write songs again. Finally able to walk under her own power, Hilary returned to performing and recording. Hilary’s book, Sign of Life, (an autobiography tracing her experiences during her return to health), was published Nov. 2010 by Da Capo Press.

Sign of Life gives context to Hilary’s place in the world by telling the stories of her grandfather and dad, Hank SR and JR, as only a close family member could. Hilary recounts the challenges her grandfather faced and addresses his untimely death. She draws parallels with her dad’s near fatal fall from the side of a mountain that forever changed his life and ultimately led him to move out of the shadows of his famous father and step into the spotlight as one of country music’s most innovative and celebrated entertainers.

When you are 3rd generation country music royalty, the world will always see you differently, but it’s what’s inside that counts to Hilary Williams. Her definition of being beautiful means “on the inside and out, with a beautiful soul and spirit”.

Sign of Life is just a step in Hilary Williams’ journey as she carves out her own place in her family’s storied legacy. In the wake of misfortune, Hilary carried on the ‘family tradition’ writing songs and pursuing her own music career.