Judith Owen

Ego Non Karaoke “I don’t do karaoke” says artist Judith Owen. It’s her wit and grit that drives Owen to play her own style of music. And in her most recent record, RediCOVERed, Owen says “I knew I had to make these songs matter to me, to have my truth in them.” And she succeeds in having a record that reflects a creative range beyond harmony, and which have delighted many who hear the covers she performs.
Owen released her first album Emotions on a Postcard in 1996, and she currently has cut 12 records to date. Her most recent single is the song “Don’t Stand So Close to Me.” A witty take on the Sting song of the same title.

G.M. Burns: Your recent album, RediCOVERed, is a collection of interesting covers such as “Smoke on the Water” and “Hotline Bling.” What do you typically try to achieve through your music?
Judith Owen: As a songwriter myself, I’m a musical interpreter of emotions. I have my own style and point of view about life. So rather than simply copying the original (that’s true to that artist), I believe it’s my role to bring a new and very personal interpretation to any cover that I do. I want the listener to find new meaning in my re-imaginings, and as my audience often tell me post show), to absolutely believe that the songs are about my life. That’s what’s wonderful about great songs…you can re-interpret and re-arrange them and they continue to shine. The most important thing for me is to respect the song. When I hear that the original artists and writers are fans of my versions, I’m overjoyed and know I’ve done my job.

Do you feel that singing is a way to become hyper-aware about the things going on around you as an artist? And in what way is that true for you?
Since I was kid, I’ve been expressing myself musically in a way that I couldn’t in words. It’s kept me sane and got me through life, and that’s what makes creating and performing one’s own music so very special, It’s like the stutterer who loses their stutter when they sing (as many do). It’s definitely self-soothing and there’s something very clear and connected to the subconscious self in writing, that sometimes feels like you’re channeling! Athletes call it the “Zone”. I count myself very fortunate to be someone who gets to speak about the world around me, the struggles and joys we all share in, and to be appreciated by those who feel the same but can’t say it out loud.

Talk about what new project you are working on now, and if you are in the middle of a new record for 2021?
I’ve already started to release individual tracks from my next Album “Both Things Are True”, a mix of covers and originals. The first two out , “I Still Dream Of America” and “Second Hand Sexbot”, are originals and the next with be a “hymn like” cover of the Jess Glynne club hit “Hold My Hand”. It’s so apt for the way we’re all feeling right now… anxious about the unknown, all needing that metaphorical hand to help us through. I’m very proud of this recording that I did in New Orleans with my long-time NOLA collaborator John Fischbach. It’s SO moving and emotionally pure. Again it’s an amazing song that was a joy to put my stamp on.

You have recorded with Grammy® winning co-producer/mixer/engineer David Bianco (Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Meghan Trainor), is there someone you would like to perform or record with in the future?
Dave was an utter joy to work with. He had me laughing from the minute I walked through the studio door, and that’s very important to me, having a joyful environment to be creative in. Actually that’s what I aspire to have everywhere in my life, on the road, in the studio, at photo shoots, making videos and especially with my musicians . I’m a very serious and sometimes dark person, who needs to laugh a lot as a counterbalance. Dave was able to do the same thing...be utterly serious about his craft AND be incredibly funny. I was heartbroken when he died but count myself incredibly lucky to have worked on three albums with him. He was like a painter… he knew how to create a beautiful landscape and then place you perfectly in the forefront. He was a master , and I miss him every day. I’ve been so very fortunate with the co-producer/mixer/engineers, I’ve got to work with over the years. Prior to Dave I’d recorded five albums in my US home, New Orleans, with the quite brilliant Grammy® winning John Fischbach (Cassandra Wilson, Stevie Wonder). He engineered one of my all time favourite SW albums “Songs In The Key Of Life”, and is truly brilliant at capturing the essence of an artist and in particular their vocal performance, which really matters when you’re a ‘one taker’ like me! In London I work a lot with Brit Awards® winner Olga Fitzroy (Coldplay), who’s incredible with strings and also has me “dialled in”. When you find people who help you to be the best version of who you are, are incredible at their jobs, who make the music shine and love to laugh whilst working round the clock, you need look no further…

As an artist with wit and grit – what keeps you going now in the mist of the pandemic (Covid-19)?
I’ve been balancing making music videos with my Acapella app (so I can include bass legend Leland Sklar and percussionist Pedro Segundo), producing comedy sketches solo, and doing bi-weekly FB Live half hours, which mix, chat, stories and music. It’s interesting actually how well equipped I am to deal with and be productive through the Covid-19 isolation period. It comes from being solo artist who writes alone and is a self-starter who HAS to think up new things all the time. Like I said, I’ve always needed a healthy balance of music and comedy to deal with life and my own anxieties and demons, so that’s exactly what I’m producing and posting, to help soothe, distract, entertain and calm the viewers and myself!

What music have you been listening to of late?
I’ve been listening mostly to classical music.. Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’, and Debussy’s ‘Claire De Lune’ today, as I find it to be the most comforting and hopeful music there is…so much meaning without the need for words. I always recommend it to anyone who needs to de-compress. For me, it’s salve for the soul and quite possibly a true form of Mindfulness

Do you have any other words you would like to share about your music or to tell your fans?

Just to thank my fans for all their love and appreciation. Music is the ultimate shared experience and in these strange and uncertain times, it’s the glue between us. I feel vey fortunate to able to share my music, my stories, music videos, covers and comedy on social media, from the confines of my home until I can get back on the road (one of these days!), and do it in person! In the meantime I’ll be mixing music for the upcoming album, finishing writing a semi-classical musical, in between walking the dog, cleaning the house and generally killing everything in the garden!!!

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by G.M. Burns