“Slick,” says The Dallas Morning News of Judy Chamberlain and her enormous repertoire.
“A fascinating journey through a century of song.” Don Heckman, International Review of Music
Dallas-based jazz singer Judy Chamberlain is known for her interpretative style, lush vocals and ability to evoke the poignancy, romance and carefree ease of the bygone eras her listeners love — even if they were never there.
She began her professional career working with and learning from musical pioneers who honed their skills during the early days of jazz and swing.
Today, members of her ensembles are among the finest players in the world, virtuosos who have toured and recorded with Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole and Harry Connick, Jr.
“Jazz singer Judy Chamberlain solidly affirms the music’s far-reaching, continuing vitality.” Don Heckman, L.A. Times
“Jazz singer/bandleader Judy Chamberlain has mastered the art of mesmerizing both the audience and her own band.” All-Music Guide
Named “one of the top jazz singers of all time” by author Scott Yanow, Chamberlain is an engaging entertainer who moves easily between big band tunes, pop, Dixieland, saloon songs and a hundred years of Broadwayband the movies — sometimes in the same set.
A New York City native and fourth-generation musician who grew up shuttling between Manhattan and Connecticut, Chamberlain lived in Southern California for thirty years before moving to Texas in 2011.
As a bandleader, performer and event producer, she has entertained many of the composers who wrote the songs she sings — along with a few United States presidents.
Singer and prolific songwriter Paul Anka gifted her, in 1999, with her own lyrics to his iconic Sinatra hit, “My Way,” requesting that she sing it in her New Year’s Eve show that year.
But Judy has been doing things “her way” since she was a teenager fronting a big band, already a seasoned veteran of dinners at The Stork Club and Cole Porter dropping in to hear Mabel Mercer sing at Tony’s or the Byline Room.
She adores recreating and sharing that world with her audiences.
“I LOVE YOU JUDY CHAMBERLAIN!” Jonne-Marie Switzler, Manager/Playboy Jazz Festivals
“Judy Chamberlain is a walking encyclopedia of The Great American Songbook.” Chuck Niles, Pacific Public Radio, Los Angeles
“I don’t know how she recalls this stuff, because she’s too young.” Al Rudis, Long Beach Press Telegram
A performer, singer, producer and broadcast personality for most of her life, Judy brings out the best her musicians, playing to their various strengths. It helps that, as former L.A. Times jazz critic Don Heckman has said, “she knows more songs than anyone else who has ever lived.”
Judy knows well of what she sings. Listeners feel as if they’re hearing the lyrics for the first time.
Sometimes they are!
Favorite composers include George & Ira Gerswin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Harold Rome, Vernon Duke, Duke Ellington, Dietz & Schwartz, Harry Warren, Richard Rogers, Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein, Noel Coward, Cy Coleman, Jimmy Webb, Johnny Mandel, Michel Legrand, Stephen Sondheim, Joni Mitchell, Paul Anka and Papa John Phillips.
“You’re just like ‘the Old Man,’ cookie,” Al Viola, longtime guitarist for Frank Sinatra
Chamberlain collaborated for a decade in Los Angeles with guitarist Al Viola, a 25-year veteran of Frank Sinatra’s band; that’s his mandolin work in “The Godfather.”
Viola, who passed away in 2007, was fond of pointing out similarities between Chamberlain and Sinatra, whom he affectionately called “the old man.”
“Judy takes care of business and sings the hell out of a tune the way Sinatra did,” said Viola. “She can come out of nowhere and take the pickup on the song — no warning — and the band is instantly with her because she gives great signals. Like Sinatra, she’s always in the moment and never does anything the same way twice. Her timing and phrasing are impeccable. I love working with her, because I’m never bored.”
“Look at all these people, having the time of their lives,” Viola said to Judy one night from their perch on the bandstand.
“And you were here, cookie.”