he free stages of the Montreux Jazz Festival always offer good opportunities to discover lesser known but talented artists. The Music in the Park stage is ideally located just next to the main concert hall of the Montreux Jazz Festival and a place where most of the festivalgoers need to pass by when going to the quais with all the food offerings. On one hand, The Music in the Park stage offers the chance to performing artists to present their music to people not necessarily coming for them. But on the other hand, it is also challenging because they need to convince the hungry and thirsty people within a few seconds to stop by and stay for the concert.
On July 10th at 8pm, it was the turn of Judith Emeline to try to stop the passersby at her concert. That turned out to be an easy task for the experienced singer born in Birmingham with Jamaican origins. In over twenty years, she headlined many Jazz, Blues and Gospel festivals in Italy and Switzerland with her Aretha Franklin and Randy Crawford inspired singing style.
In Montreux, she gave an amazing concert of Blues, Soul and Gospel with an incredible voice supported by the vocal quartet and band of The Feel Goods. The area in front of the stage under the large tree filled rapidly.
After the concert, I had the chance for an interview with her.
Dominique: You lived in UK, in Italy, in the Italian part of Switzerland and are now back in England since 2006. Where do you feel at home?
Judith: Home today is in two places, the United Kingdom and Tessin (the Italian part of Switzerland). Both places, in very different ways, are a part of me. In the UK I have my family and my beautiful home, which is my sanctuary, my safe place, my re-energizing zone. It may sound strange but the UK keeps me curious and I love to sit and just watch what is going on around me and mixing with people of different cultures with different musical styles. Tessin is my family of friends and colleagues; the place where I look back on and feel “wow, what a journey”. It is the place where I speak my other language, Italian. The years of living there have created a bilingual me. When I start speaking Italian in the UK it’s time to flip to my other world and vice-versa. I think I have found the best of both worlds, never too long in one place; two worlds that make me one.
Dominique: How would you describe your music? What are your influences?
Judith: Music has played a big role in my life from a young age. In stage school we used a lot of the Jazz standards to dance to, at school we explored the world of Gilbert & Sullivan, Hymns in church and old time reggae and lovers rock at home and of course the mythical “Top of the Pops” was my era of listening to music. Every style was represented. Then travelling and meeting musicians broadened my horizons. Music for me is about feeling emotions, sometimes it’s through the music; sometimes it’s through the lyrics that relate to part of my life but as long as it touches my soul its good.
Dominique: How did you meet The Feel Goods and how long have you been performing together?
Judith: I met part of the band in 2007 when I was asked to be lead singer in the Crossfires rock-blues band. At that time we were an 8 piece band. We did about 18 months and then I felt it was time to re-new the whole project and take it to a different place. I’ve always liked the idea of having male and female backing singers, sounds so cool, and the saxophone adds a magic touch. “Piano, piano” (slowly, slowly), the band was transformed into Judith Emeline & The Feel Goods and a new repertoire emerged miring towards Spiritual and Gospel in the way of songs with a great message for humanity. Love, peace and understanding plays a big part in living good.
Dominique: How would you describe your newest album “Fly”?
Judith: “Fly” is my 7 year story through music. Since 2005 a lot of changes have taken place in my life and I started to feel this great need to write things down. My home became filled with note books and pens and I was scribbling down all that I was feeling. Musically there is everything in there from rock to jazz to gospel to soul passing through the blues and a little bit of pop and funky. It’s quite a journey and I feel happy about what I have achieved so far. “Fly” is my baby just waiting in the wings waiting for its moment to be heard; hopefully by the world.
Dominique: What memories do you take back from your performance on The Music in the Park stage of the Montreux Jazz Festival?
Judith: The 10th July was a super day. The location was tip-top, the temperature was perfect and the vibe was awesome. At 8pm when the curtains opened I remember seeing the sun and feeling its rays; just in the perfect spot. My biggest challenge was my new public in front of me. I wanted to touch them with my soul. The band was in form and I felt like the Captain of the ship navigating my people to where we need to go. The response from the public was super and as the park filled with people I said to myself “Thank you Lord for this opportunity, thank you Lord for my gift”. I hope there will be a next time; this time it will be all about baby “FLY”.
Dominique: Thank you Judith for the great concert and for taking your time for the interview.
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