Judy Chamberlain can move an audience to tears in the time it takes to sing a four minute song. A widely-respected music historian, consultant and event producer, she is also a delightful entertainer.
The singer/bandleader, a native New Yorker who began performing professionally at the age of 13, honed her communication skills on TV and as a radio commentator and lifestyle/hospitality industry columnist before returning to her first career, music, more than two decades ago.
Her 4,000 song repertoire spans all the decades and styles of American popular music, with an emphasis on the standards of the Great American Songbook.
Chamberlain's longtime guitarist, the legendary Al Viola - who was on every album Frank Sinatra recorded from 1950-1980 - says, "Judy can read an audience instantly. She has 'it,' that indefinable quality of storytelling, vocal control and phrasing that made Sinatra great. Audiences love her. Onstage and off, she really knows how to take care of business."
The Los Angeles Times enthused, "Chamberlain's easygoing interaction with her listeners transforms celebrations into marvelously spontaneous events," while the Orange County Register proclaimed, "heavenly voiced singer Judy Chamberlain possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of American popular music" and KKJZ Los Angeles' Chuck Niles called her "a walking encyclopedia of the Great American Songbook."
Her sophisticated clients prefer the Cha Cha to the Chicken Dance and the Lindy Hop to Hip Hop. They adore the understated elegance of the standards, and know that can also count on Judy to get a crowd onto the dance floor with a huge variety of styles, often all in the same set.
"Anyone who is lucky enough to have Judy for a special event is getting a unique and authentic commodity, not some retro imitation of swing and jazz music," says the director of a prestigious Los Angeles concert theater, who hired her to play for his own wedding. "She could make Aretha Franklin jealous. She is very talented. What I like most about Judy is how she plays to a crowd. Whether she's playing to 10 or 1000, she can completely capture an audience. Her performance is always wonderful."
Chamberlain is a genius at orchestrating a meaningful musical score that is "like a scene from a movie," according to those who have thrilled to some of her creative concepts.
"Judy has great empathy and devotes herself to giving people exactly what they want," says a hospitality industry professional who has worked with her for many years.
A client who confesses that he was under tremendous pressure to please his guests says, "We are real music lovers, and almost everyone in our family has been a professional musician at one time or another. And they all love to dance. They warned us: 'This had better be good.' And Judy and the band just blew them away. Our friends and relatives all asked us, 'Where did you find a band like this? Did you fly them in from New York?'"
Chamberlain is the catalyst for everything that happens on the bandstand, out in front of the band reading the crowd and putting on a glorious show. Her musicians, the most respected studio and touring pros on the West Coast, have played featured roles with Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee, Julie London, Rosemary Clooney, Dean Martin, Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Natalie Cole, Brian Setzer, Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin and many others. The result is a brilliant interaction between singer, musicians and audience.
"What we do is so much more than 'the real deal,'" says Chamberlain. "It's over the top, out of the ballpark."
With a repertoire that numbers more than 4,000 songs and spans all the decades of American music, on-the-spot requests are child's play for Judy. But she does admit to being thrown for a loop when Paul Anka wanted to know if she ever sang his classic, "My Way."
She offered him her "usual" response - "Do I look like Paul Anka? Or Frank Sinatra?"
Anka promptly re-wrote the lyrics for her.
Recent appearances include ABC's "The Bachelor," The Style Network's "Wedding, Altered," Spazio Jazz Supper Club in Sherman Oaks and the KKJZ Summer Jazz Concert Series in Hollywood.
EXCERPTS FROM REVIEWS:
"Judy Chamberlain must be channeling Miles Davis. She plays to the talents of her musicians, offering them an exciting environment in which to shine. There are no set lists. No rehearsals, no discussions. No calling out of keys, or counting off tempos. Head arrangements emanate from the bandstand as if by magic. Sometimes Chamberlain simply takes the pickup, singing a line or a riff, her musicians instantly following her subtle cues. It's a challenge, and one they clearly enjoy. At a Chamberlain performance, it's hard to tell who's having more fun, the musicians or the audience. Other emotions surface as well, sometimes unexpectedly. Chamberlain is a skilled and sensitive tour guide, a real jazz singer who uses texture and color to weave a highly entertaining spell." Scott Yanow, L.A. Jazz Scene
"A fine, articulate performer...easygoing interaction with her listeners...swinging....marvelously spontaneous....solidly reaffirming the music's far-reaching capabilities..." Don Heckman, L.A. Times
"...a voice that is fine and mellow, phrasing that is sublime and energy that is contagious...one talented jazz singer..." Bruce Cook, O.C. Daily Pilot
"Judy Chamberlain is an incredible singer, and I say that as someone who hates jazz utterly and completely." Rebecca Schoenkopf, O.C. Weekly