Feature/Interview

In lockdown with… singer-songwriter Judith Owen

Welsh singer-songwriter and pianist Judith Owen is based in LA. During lockdown, she’s been enjoying the chance to write new music and pursue various creative ideas. We find out about the projects she’s involved in and what she’s most looking forward to once this period is over. 

Judith Owen

Judith Owen. Photo credit Matthew Becker

First album you purchased as a “jazz musician”?

I’ve always identified with empowered female artists who sing and play the piano, so early in my career I bought Nina Simone’s I Put A Spell on You. I loved how her jazz had a classical twist, and it’s this ability to blend musical genres that’s always spoken to me and been a constant part of my style.

Most memorable time in your career or education?

I think being taken under Ronnie Scott’s wing as a kid and opening for so many jazz greats was remarkable. Truly an education in life and music.

What are you listening to right now?

I’ve been writing more than listening… there’s so much I want and need to say! 

Have you done or watched any livestream gigs or events since lockdown?

I do a Facebook Live show ‘FFS!’ twice a week, produce an Acapella with bass legend Leland Sklar and uber-percussionist Pedro Segundo, once a week, and also have a weekly comedy series, ‘Super Divas!’ (featuring classical and jazz “icons” sharing tips in lockdown!!). It’s my job to entertain, soothe, uplift and distract in these uncertain times.

I’ve been watching some of the greatest New Orleans pianists performing on a YouTube show my husband Harry Shearer created to showcase our many remarkable friends (Jon Cleary, Tom McDermott, David Torkanowsky…). It’s a way of keeping the scene alive in these Covid-19 times. I recommend checking them out and supporting the birthplace of jazz!

Instrument you wish you played?

Electric guitar or bass, as I look really good when I’m posing with either, and it’s so much easier to be a frontwoman when you’re standing. But honestly, nothing’s ever come close to the piano for me. It’s an extension of me at this point, my best friend and alter ego!

Judith Owen

Judith Owen. Photo courtesy of Republic Media

Has this time in isolation inspired any new creative ideas?

It’s as if the lack of distraction has opened the sluice gates for new ideas and creativity and a sense that, with nothing to lose, it’s time to be fearless and to try all those things you’ve been putting off. If not now then when? So yes… this has been the silver lining to it all, guilt-free self-absorption!

What are you most looking forward to once this is over?

Seeing my sister in Southern Ireland and getting back to some London culture, theatre, museums, and the obligatory trip to Ronnie Scott’s, the stomping ground of my youth.

LINK: Judith Owen’s website

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