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Judith Durham

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Title: Judith Durham  
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Subject: The Seekers, Durham (surname), The Carnival Is Over, 2014 Queen's Birthday Honours (Australia), His Eye Is on the Sparrow
Collection: 1943 Births, 20Th-Century Australian Singers, Australian Expatriates in Switzerland, Australian Expatriates in the United Kingdom, Australian Female Singers, Australian Jazz Singers, Australian Pianists, Australian Pop Singers, Australian Singer-Songwriters, Australian Songwriters, Living People, Officers of the Order of Australia, Recipients of the Centenary Medal, Recipients of the Medal of the Order of Australia, Rmit University Alumni, Singers from Melbourne, Tambourine Players, University of Melbourne Alumni
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Judith Durham

Judith Durham
Judith Durham in 1970
Background information
Birth name Judy Mavis Cock
Also known as Judith Durham
Born (1943-07-03) 3 July 1943
Essendon, Victoria, Australia
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Singer, musician, composer
Instruments Vocals, tambourine, piano
Years active 1963–present
Associated acts The Seekers, The Hottest Band in Town, The Hot Jazz Duo

Judith Mavis Durham AO[1] (born Judith Mavis Cock, 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.


  • Early life 1
  • The Seekers 2
  • Solo career 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Solo releases 5
  • Honours and awards 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early life

Durham was born in Essendon, Victoria, to William Alexander Cock DFC, a navigator and World War II pathfinder, and his wife, Hazel (née Durham). From her birth until 1949, Durham spent summer holidays at her family's weatherboard house on the west side of Durham Place in Rosebud, which has been demolished. A myth has circulated that "Morningtown Ride" was prompted by these holidays and the nearby town of Mornington. However, Durham has stated that the song was written by American songwriter Malvina Reynolds and that the lyrics refer to sweet dreams rather than the Mornington Peninsula. 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.[2]

Durham at first planned to be a pianist and 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 and also had classical vocal training and performed blues, gospel and jazz pieces. Her singing career began one night at the age of 18 when she asked Nicholas Ribush, leader of the Melbourne University Jazz Band, 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.[3]

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 the Treble Clef, a coffee lounge on Toorak Road in Melbourne.

The Seekers

The Seekers consisted of Durham, Athol Guy, Bruce Woodley and Keith Potger, the last being an ABC radio producer. It was through 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. W&G instead signed The Seekers for an album, Introducing the Seekers, in 1963. (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 ten 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

Solo career

Durham returned to Australia in August 1968 and her first solo television special screened on the Nine Network in September. During her solo career she has released albums titled For Christmas With Love, Gift of Song and Climb Ev'ry Mountain. In 1970 she made the television special Meet Judith Durham in London, ending with her rendition of "When You Come to the End of a Perfect Day" by Carrie Jacobs-Bond (1862–1946).[4] 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 moved to Queensland and focused on her songwriting.

In 1994, Durham began recording albums again, including Mona Lisas in 1996 under the direction of producer Gus Dudgeon. This was re-released as Always There in 1997 with the addition of Durham's solo recording of fellow Seeker Bruce Woodley's "I am Australian" (with Russell Hitchcock of Air Supply and Mandawuy Yunupingu of Yothu Yindi) and the Smith Family theme song of the title. Her recording of "Always There" was first released on the 1997 double CD Anthems, which also featured Bruce Woodley's "Common Ground" and the Seekers' "Advance Australia Fair" arrangement.

In 2000, Durham's album Let Me Find Love, a top ten hit on the Australian album charts, 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 Lord Mayor John So. As part of the ceremony, 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 fund-raiser, with Orchestra Victoria. The decision was then made to record Durham'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 was to benefit charities such as the Motor Neurone Disease Association of Australia (Durham 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.

The Australian Cities Suite features songs for all the capital cities including:

"Sydney Girl of My Dreams"
"Happy Years I Spent in Hobart" (with Judith's heartfelt memories of her childhood in Tasmania)
"Australia Land of Today" (her emotional love song for the nation)

On 13 February 2009, Durham made a surprise return to the Myer Music Bowl when she performed the closing number at the RocKwiz Salutes the Bowl – Sidney Myer Music Bowl 50th Anniversary with "The Carnival is Over".

On 23 May 2009, Durham performed a one hour a cappella concert in Melbourne as a launch for her album Up Close & Personal Vol 1.[5]

Personal life

On 21 November 1969, she married her musical director, British pianist Ron Edgeworth,[6] in Melbourne. They lived in the UK and Switzerland until the mid-1980s when they bought property in Nambour, 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 members of The 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.[7]

In the late 1990s Durham was stalked by her former personal assistant, a woman who sent her dozens of doormats through the post. The woman was subsequently prosecuted.[8]

In May 2013 Durham suffered a brain hemorrhage which 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.[9]

Solo releases

  • 1963 Judy Durham & Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers (EP)
  • 1964 Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers & Judy Durham – "Trombone Frankie" (45)
  • 1967 "The Olive Tree" / "The Non-Performing Lion Quickstep" (45) – UK No. 33[10]
  • 1967 "Again and Again"/"Memories" (45)
  • 1968 For Christmas With Love (LP)
  • 1970 Gift of Song (LP)
  • 1971 Climb Every Mountain (LP)
  • 1973 JD & The Hottest Band in Town Vol. 1 LP
  • 1974 JD & The Hottest Band in Town Vol. 2 LP
  • 1980 The Hot Jazz Duo LP
  • 1992 "Australia Land of Today" (CD single)
  • 1994 Let Me Find Love (CD) – AUS No. 8[11]
  • 1996 Mona Lisas [CD] – UK No. 46[10]
  • 1997 Always There [CD]
  • 2000 Hold on To Your Dream [CD]
  • 2002 JD and the Melbourne Welsh Male Choir [CD]
  • 2003 Diamond Night [DVD]
  • 2009 Judith Durham Up Close & Personal – Volume 1 [CD][12]
  • 2009 Judith Durham’s Advance Australia Fair ... A Lyric For Contemporary Australia [CD][13]
  • 2011 Epiphany [CD]
  • 2011 Colours of My Life – AUS No. 44[11]
  • 2012 The Australian Cities Suite – AUS No. 81 (debut)
  • 2013 The Platinum Album – AUS No. 36
  • 2013 It's Christmas Time

With the exception of the jazz EP and the 1971 album Climb Every Mountain, all of Durham's solo records have been rereleased on CD.

Durham has also contributed to various compilations, including the CD single "Yil Lull", "Slowly Gently" for the Motor Neurone Disease fund-raiser, One Man's Journey, and an ethnic version of "The Carnival is Over" with Melbourne group Inka Marka for the Melbourne Immigration Museum's compilation CD This is the Place For a Song. In 2007 Durham also made a cameo appearance on English Garden, a bonus track featured only on the digital download version of the new Silverchair album Young Modern.

Honours and awards


  1. ^ Hey There, it's the Seekers AO"The Australian" –
  2. ^ Suzannah Pearce, ed. (17 November 2006). "Durham Judith Mavis". Who's Who in Australia Live!. North Melbourne, Vic: Crown Content Pty Ltd. 
  3. ^ Judith Durham official website
  4. ^ Durham, Judith (1970). "When you come to the end of a perfect day". Meet Judith Durham [television special] (London). Retrieved 3 April 2011.  Song starts at 44 seconds into the video.
  5. ^ A Global First? A Cappella Solo Recitals – Judith's First Melbourne Concerts In 8 Years
  6. ^ "Body". Retrieved 2012-04-10. 
  7. ^ In 1994 her authorised biography Colours of My Life: The Judith Durham Story by Graham Simpson was first published by Random House Australia. The book was updated and reprinted in 1998 and 2000; in 2003 it was again updated when published by Virgin Books.
  8. ^ Cauchi, Stephen (12 September 1998). "Durham's stalker loses appeal", The Age, p. 7.
  9. ^ "Seekers singer Judith Durham learns to read and write after brain hemorrhage". ABC News (Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Company). 3 July 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  10. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 173.  
  11. ^ a b "Chartifacts – Week Commencing: 28th November 2011".  
  12. ^ CD Release of Judith's 'Up Close & Personal – Volume 1' Album
  13. ^ CD Release Of 'Judith Durham's Advance Australia Fair' In Reconciliation Week
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ [2]
  16. ^ Queen's Birthday honours: Australians recognised for services to community. ABC News 9 June 2014. retrieved 2014-06-09

Further reading

  • Simpson, Graham. Colours of my life: The Judith Durham story. Melbourne: Random House Australia, 1994, 1998, 2000; Virgin Books, 2004. ISBN 1-85227-038-1.

External links

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