“Name a song, and she’ll sing it. A huge repertoire testifies to singer Judy Chamberlain’s first love: jazz.” The Dallas Morning News
“A fascinating journey through a century of song.” The International Review of Music
Dallas-based jazz singer Judy Chamberlain has the storyteller’s gift of phrasing.
She should. She’s an engaging vocalist and bandleader who has also had a 30-year career as a journalist and broadcaster.
Her extensive repertoire, perfectly tailored for weddings and parties lavish or simple, is a beautifully curated, eclectic collection of jazz and swing, vintage pop, country and rock ‘n roll, prohibition-era, saloon, Broadway, Old Hollywood and Sinatra-era saloon classics. The songs she sings evoke the glamour, romance, carefree ease and sophisticated elegance of other places, other times.
A New York City native, Chamberlain began her professional career working with and learning from musicians who honed their skills during the early days of jazz and swing. She moved to New Orleans in 1978, and then to Southern California in 1980 before relocating to Texas in 2011.
Today, Judy’s wedding and corporate event bands and ensembles sparkle with first-call virtuosos who have performed and recorded with everyone from Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Beck, Sir Paul McCartney, Aretha Franklin, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole, Ray Charles, Michael Buble, The Tonight Show Band and Harry Connick, Jr. to Kermit the Frog. They are literally the finest musicians in the world.
“Jazz singer/bandleader Judy Chamberlain has mastered the art of mesmerizing both the audience and her own band.” All-Music Guide
“A fascinating journey through a century of song.” Don Heckman, International Review of Music
Named “one of the top jazz singers of all time” by author Scott Yanow, Chamberlain moves easily between standards, big band tunes, pop, Dixieland, saloon songs and a hundred years of Broadway and the movies. She has garnered praise for bringing out the best in 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 who has ever lived.”
An avid music historian, Judy knows well of what she sings. Phrasing and interpretation are an integral part of what she does, performing vintage music in a fresh, relevant way that is as appealing to younger audiences as it is to those who were there the first time around. Guests at weddings and corporate events at which Judy entertains often say they feel as if they’re hearing the lyrics for the first time.
Sometimes they are!
“Jazz singer Judy Chamberlain solidly affirms the music’s far-reaching, continuing vitality.” Don Heckman, L.A. Times
Over the years, Judy has been honored to have performed for numerous entertainment and political figures, as well as for some of the iconic composers who actually wrote the songs she sings.
In 1999, Paul Anka presented her with her own lyrics to his Sinatra hit, “My Way,” calling it “My Way, Her Way.”
But Judy has been doing things her way since she was a teenager fronting a big band, already a seasoned veteran of nights 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
Timeless classics written by the likes of George & Ira Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Duke Ellington, Harry Warren, Richard Rogers, Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein – and anything Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra ever sang – are among Judy’s favorites when “orchestrating” music for special events.
She especially loves working with brides and their families, and has been known to draw musical inspiration for her clients’ weddings from Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly movies.
And then there’s pop, country and vintage rock ‘n roll. Song recorded by Elvis Presley, Bob Wills, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, Ray Charles, Paul Anka, The Mamas and the Papas, The Doors, The Carpenters, Linda Ronstadt, Joni Mitchell, Frankie Valli, Aretha Franklin, Gloria Gaynor, Simon and Garfunkel, Nina Simone, Bonnie Raitt, Carole King, Barbra Streisand, Roberta Flack, Billy Joel, Celine Dion…and so many more …are also in Judy’s legendary 4,000 song repertoire.
“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 longtime mainstay of Frank Sinatra’s band and recordings; that’s his mandolin work you hear while watching the Godfather movies.
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.”