Judith Durham, OAM (born on 3 July 1943) is an Australian jazz singer and musician who became the lead vocalist for the Australian popular folk music group The Seekers in 1963. She left the group in mid-1968 to pursue her solo career. In 1993 Durham began to make sporadic recordings and performances with The Seekers, continuing into the 2000s
Judith Durham was born Judith Mavis Cock on 3 July 1943, at Essendon, Victoria, Australia, to William Alexander Cock DFC, a Navigator and World War II Pathfinder, and his wife Hazel. Durham lived in Hobart, Tasmania, where she attended The Fahan School before moving back to Melbourne in 1956. In Melbourne she was educated at Ruyton Girls' School and, following matriculation, enrolled at RMIT.
Durham at first planned to be a pianist, and she gained the qualification of Associate In Music, Australia (AMusA), in classical piano at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium. She had some professional engagements playing piano. She also had classical vocal training and performed blues, gospel, and jazz pieces. Her singing career began at the age of 18 when she asked Nicholas Ribush, leader of the Melbourne University Jazz Band, one night at the Memphis Jazz Club in Malvern, whether she could sing with the band. In 1963 she began performing at the same club with Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers, using her mother's maiden name of Durham. In that year she also recorded her first EP—"Judy Durham with Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers"—for W&G Records.
Durham was working as a secretary at the J Walter Thompson advertising agency where she met account executive Athol Guy. Guy was in a folk group called the Seekers which sang on Monday nights at a coffee lounge, the Treble Clef, on Toorak Road in Melbourne.
The Seekers consisted of Durham, Athol Guy, Bruce Woodley, and Keith Potger, the last being an ABC radio producer. It was through Keith Potger's position that the three were able to make a demo tape in their spare time. This was given to W&G Records, which wanted another sample of Durham's voice before agreeing to record a Jazz Preachers album. Instead W&G signed The Seekers for analbum, Introducing the Seekers, in 1963. (Keith Potger does not appear on the album cover because he was not allowed to have a second job.) Durham, however, recorded two other songs with the Jazz Preachers, "Muddy Water" (which appeared on their album Jazz From the Pulpit) and "Trombone Frankie" (an adapted version of Bessie Smith's "Trombie Cholly").
In early 1964 the Seekers sailed to the United Kingdom on the S.S. Fairsky on which the group provided the musical entertainment. Originally they had planned to return after 10 weeks, but they received a steady stream of bookings through the Grade Agency because they had sent the agency a copy of their first album. In November 1964 The Seekers released "I'll Never Find Another You" composed by Tom Springfield. In February 1965 the record reached number one in the UK and Australia.
Durham returned to Australia in August 1968 and her first solo television special screened on the Nine Network in the September. During her solo career she has released albums titled For Christmas With Love, Gift Of Song, and Climb Ev'ry Mountain. In the 1970s she returned to traditional jazz and recorded Volumes 1 and 2 of The Hottest Band In Town and The Hot Jazz Duo. She then retired to Queensland but wrote songs occasionally.
On 21 November 1969, she married her musical director, British pianist Ron Edgeworth in Melbourne.
They lived in the UK and Switzerland until the mid-1980s when they bought property in Queensland.
In 1990 Durham, Edgeworth and their tour manager, Peter Summers, were involved in a car accident on the Calder freeway. The driver of the other car died at the scene and Durham sustained a fractured wrist and leg. The response from her fans made Durham consider getting back together with the other Seekers for the silver jubilee show. This reunion, however, was brief when Edgeworth was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. He died on 10 December 1994 with Durham by his side
In 1994 Durham began recording albums again, including Mona
In 2000 Durham's album Let Me Find Love was re-released as Hold on To Your Dream, with the addition of "Australia Land of Today" (which she had written). In 2001 she did another Australian tour, and in 2003 she toured the UK to celebrate her 60th birthday. Her birthday concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London was filmed and released on DVD in late 2004.
In 2006, The Seekers were awarded the Key To The City of Melbourne by the Lord Mayor John So. As part of the ceremony, Judith Durham sang part of her song "Seldom Melbourne Leaves My Mind" and was later invited by the Lord Mayor's Charitable Fund to record the song, as a fundraiser, with Orchestra Victoria. The decision was then made to record Judith's entire Australian Cities Suite with all proceeds from the sale of the CD to go to the charitable sector. The album was released in October 2008. The project is to benefit charities like the Motor Neurone Disease Association of Australia (Judith is national patron) and Orchestra Victoria, in addition to other charities which benefit from the Lord Mayor's Charitable Fund or its national affiliated network United Way.
By 2009 Durham's rendition of "A Perfect Day" by Carrie Jacobs-Bond achieved more hits on YouTube than even the version by Paul Robeson but was withdrawn from availability because of questions involving access to intellectual property.
In May 2013 Durham suffered a brain hemorrhage after the Seekers first concert in Melbourne. The rest of the Australian tour and later-to-be-staged UK tour were postponed; the former continued in November, while the UK tour took place in May and June 2014, ending with two performances at the Royal Albert Hall, London. The hemorrhageich debilitated her ability to read and write not only visual language but also musical scores. During her convalescence she made progress to rebuild those skills. Her singing ability per se was never affected. (Info edited from Wikipedia) Judith is still very active in 2014. Check out her web site at http://www.judithdurham.com
Judith Durham Sings You Belong To Me, It's Impossible and Wonderful! Wonderful!
Live In Concert At The Royal Festival Hall London 2003