Thursday, May 04, 2006

Southern Soul floats my boat


I was turned on to Judy White only recently by John Ridley at his excellent page at the equally excellent Soul Of The Net. There he features “Save Me”, a great deep soul song Judy cut in 1969 ably assisted by the Isley Brothers on the T-Neck label. I say this is the first time I became aware of Judy White, but then again maybe not. I present exhibit A…
This is a snippet from a “Soul House” sales list from 1977 (“Soul House” were based in Wakefield UK and are now probably long gone). As you can see the record featured in this post was marked by me with TWO dashes. Normally I marked records I was interested in with a single dash or maybe an asterisk. So did the two dashes mean I had heard the record and desperately wanted it? Don’t know, can’t remember. All I know is I didn’t buy the record then and it was only after hearing “Save Me” at John Ridley’s page about 18 months ago that I started – or possibly restarted – my hunt for Judy White records in earnest. The search was fruitless until a couple of months ago when, within the space of a couple of weeks I finally secured both “Save Me” and “Satisfaction Guaranteed”/”I’ll Cry” for very reasonable sums.
“Save Me” you can hear at John Ridley’s page, and it’s a peach. I’m featuring “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “I’ll Cry” here. A single with both sides as strong as this doesn’t come along too often. Two slabs of gorgeous southern soul recorded in Sheffield, Alabama at Quin Ivey’s Quinvy Studio. I think this is about as good as it can possibly get. No words from me could possibly adequately describe the tracks, you need to listen to them.

I have been unable to find much information on Judy beyond that offered by John Ridley. But here is what I have found.
Judy is the daughter of Josh White. I had never heard of Josh White but reading up on him it appears he was an accomplished and high profile blues guitarist and singer in the 30s. Into the 40s he played alongside jazz artists such as Billie Holiday and played the society circuit and subsequently moved more into the sphere of protest songs and folk music where has was to gain a significant white audience. He was a major draw on the folk circuit in the pre Dylan 60s and also toured Europe (coming to the UK several times) and Scandinavia during the 60s. He died in 1969. (The picture here shows Judy with her Judy's father and brother and sister Beverley).

A review of a video of appearances he made in Sweden in 1967 mentions Judy (more specifically her voice) as being the best reason for watching the video. It also states that she was 19 at the time which would mean she was probably born in 1948 1947. It seems that Judy accompanied her father (together with her brother Josh White Jr) on many stage performances in the 60s as a backing singer.

The Swedish tour must have just predated her recording career at the Buddah label. As John Ridley points out, that started with her appearing as one half of Bongi & Judy. Bongi was Bongi Makeba, daughter of Miriam Makeba. It is likely that Bongi and Judy met in New York in the late fifties. The White family were by that time based in New York and Miriam Makeba made appearances at the Village Vanguard in 1959 and also a guest appearance at Harry Belafonte’s concerts at Carnegie Hall which were also, I believe, attended by Josh White. Bongi Makeba would later die in 1985 following complications in childbirth.

Judy White cut a number of solo singles for Buddah before moving to T-Neck (which was distributed by Buddah) in 1969. Only two singles from her are known on this imprint.

I have only heard snippets of some of her other Buddah output. Based on that I would say that the three songs mentioned here are the standouts - but what standouts! Judy certainly had a fine voice and it seems a shame that she doesn’t appear to have recorded solo beyond her T-Neck outings. On All Music I can only find two references to her – as providing backing vocals on an Archie Shepp album in 1972, and on an album by her brother Josh White Jr. in 1978. It’s possible the death of her father hit her hard. Maybe she also moved onto the folk circuit. Who knows? Wherever life took her the soul music genre ended up the poorer for it.

UPDATE February 2008! Judy is alive and well and living in Georgia USA. She has contacted this blog(see the comments!) and let us know where life took her after her time at T-Neck.

Judy White - Satisfaction Guaranteed 1969?

Judy White - I'll Cry 1969?

Update:
You can find both sides of this 45 on the CD "Buddah Deep Soul" (be aware that only a few of the tracks on the CD actually qualify as Deep Soul).

11 comments:

tomhavers said...

I'll cry even more if the Judy White- I'll cry link stays broken.

Anonymous said...

yeah i'm not able to download from that link either...boo hoo

Darcy said...

Link to I'll Cry should be ok now. sorry 'bout that a random space worked it's way into the filename.

Rob Whatman said...

Satisfaction Guaranteed! - could be a good motto for your page header ...

Anonymous said...

Judy White -- what a gorgeous voice.
Thanks for the tracks. Both are great songs; the second one should be played first thing each morning at all high schools. Maybe some girls would listen to Judy ...

AnnaK

Judy said...

HI Darcy, this is amazing, flattering and TIMELY that we would find one another..black history month!! If you dont know who this is..Its Me Judy White Goard..i am now married for 34 years and have four musically inclined children. 2 girls and 2 boys. Your research is phenomenal and on point..except for a couple of minor things. I was born in 1947 and in that picture is my sister Beverly with my brother and father. After T-Neck i began to travel with a gospel group the patterson singers going overseas for several years. My last singing engagment was in Vegas in 72'. I now sing in my church located in GA and have passed on my singing legacy to my oldest daughter Kelli Goard Ellis. Her album has just been realeased and is entitled KELLI a heart of worship. You are more than welcome to see her myspace page which is.. www.kjpraize.com. I am now teaching and encouraging other young talented musical protigy's . Once again thank you so much and PLEASE keep in touch. My love and thanks to you Ms. Darcy.

Darcy said...

Thanks so much for getting in touch Judy! In my post I said of your record that it was about as good as it could possibly get. But having you drop by here is even better. I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot!

I would love to give a fuller reply and keep in touch, but at the moment don’t have an email address for you. If you read this and want to email a contact address you can find my email address ‘hidden’ in the ‘disclaimer’ wording on the right hand side bar of my blog page.

Thanks again, and oh, btw, I’m a Mr not a Ms!

Anonymous said...

Here is 2 songs from Judy White and Rudolph Isley on Youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixh7V-1dK1U

Darcy said...

Thanks Anon (from Augusta? - if my Sitemeter stats are to be believed - and therefore a relatively close neighbour of Judy's).

I really like both of these, especially "Together". Another piece of the Judy White jigsaw I need to get.

bobby said...

Very nice blog, lots of background; cheers. Oh man, the REAL Judy White got in touch with you! That is quite an honor. The only T-Neck single I have is "Somebody Been Messin'" which is amazing and heavy, not to mention lyrically aggressive for a woman's love song at that time, but when I put on the Buddah singles, man that stuff just hits me right in the gut. I know I'm way late on this post but I just wanted to chime in and say how much I love you, Judy.

Gareth Davies said...

Hi
Amazing info BTW can anybody tell me how to get the Buddah deep soul CD.? Seems to never show up on E-Bay. Judy's a top soul singer-pity no-one put out a compilation of her stuff for posterity. If she gets in touch again add me as another fan & pass on my best wishes