REAL NAME: JUDY MOWATT also known as Julianne
BIRTH PLACE: Industry Village, Gordon Town, St. Andrew, Jamaica
BIRTH DATE: 1952
Her family was poor and although no one went hungry, they could not afford a radio in the house. As a child, singing came as naturally to her as breathing and she was always ‘singled-out’ for solo spots with church choirs. While in school, which were Holy Trinity and Kingston Commercial Schools, she became a member of a dance troupe, which toured Jamaica and the Caribbean. JUDY’S aspiration was to become a registered nurse, but by divine purpose, that was not to be. She later discovered that GOD’S purpose was for her to nurse and restore healing to the hearts and soul of mankind through her music. Her earliest influences in the music industry were Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, Dionne Warwick, Bob Marley and Marcia Griffiths.
A coincidental meeting with two teenage girls who were earlier in her dance troupe led to the formation of the GAYLETTES, in 1967. They rapidly became one of the most popular singing groups on the island after being asked to sing backing tracks for Federal Records. The Group later recorded several hits on the Federal Records Label. Although contractual snags forced her to record under other names, by early seventies, she had launched her solo career with both soul ballads and reggae tunes. She had a number of hits including ‘I SALL SING’ (later covered by ART GARFUNKEL), ‘WAY OVER YONDER’ and ‘EMERGENCY CALL’. She then teamed up with Rita Marley and Marcia Griffiths to form the I-THREE, who became BOB MARLEY’S backing vocals when the original WAILERS, PETER TOSH and BUNNY WAILER left the group in 1974. Their soaring harmonies, majestic costumes and dance movement (choreographed by JUDY) were -highlights of BOB MARLEY concerts as they accompanied him on his historic global odysseys. Meanwhile, JUDY had her biggest solo hit with ‘MELLOW MOOD’ a BOB MARLEY composition that became the title track on her first solo LP in 1975.
Constant touring with BOB MARLEY prevented JUDY MOWATT from concentrating on her solo career. It was not until 1978 that her landmark second LP ‘BLACK WOMAN’ was released. Produced by JUDY and FREDDIE MCGREGOR, the record features several moving compositions such as ‘JOSEPH’, (a soulful ballad tribute to BOB MARLEY), ‘SISTERS CHANT, STRENGTH TO GO THROUGH’ and the title track ‘BLACK WOMAN’ celebrating the strength and dignity of black women, this LP still remains one of the greatest reggae album ever recoded and produced by a woman. Subsequently, the albums expanded her music in many directions as she focused on her life as a Rastafarian Woman and then the special concerns of women. Her third LP, ‘ONLY A WOMAN’, confirmed her position as a spokeswoman for issues against affecting her as a woman, featuring the title tracks ‘ONLY A WOMAN’ and ‘I’M NOT MECHANICAL’.
The Almighty God has tremendously blessed JUDY MOWATT. “To whom much is given much is required”, that is what she believes; it is her God given duty to give back to the society, that nurtured her. In 1994, she spearheaded an organization called CONCERNED WOMEN IN ACTION, primarily to assist “The Forth Augusta Correctional Center For Women’ to obtain a well needed stand-by generator. This was accomplished with the aid of the BRITISH HIGH COMISSION after staging several fund raising concerts both in Jamaica and in this United States of America. This has since increased awareness for the needs at this center. JUDY is still constantly involved in the organizing and planning of many charitable projects for various institutions.
Although she was a devoted Rastafarian for twenty-two years, desiring to please God all the way, she suddenly became overshadowed with a feeling of emptiness and total dissatisfaction. Hunger for the whole truth arose and led her to numerous churches. She is now a devote Christian.