Judith Durham to be inducted into AWMA honour roll
As a member of The Seekers in the ‘60s and then as a solo act, Melbourne-born Durham was the first Australian woman to sell over 50 million records.
“Judith Durham has one of the world’s purest voices, she has a rare musical gift and is one of Australia’s most esteemed cultural leaders,” said Vicki Gordon, AWMA founding executive director and executive producer.
“An unforgettable singer, a visionary songwriter and composer, an uncompromising advocate for First Nations justice and numerous charities, Judith’s legacy is indelible!
“We couldn’t be more honoured to induct Judith into the 2019 AWMA Honour Roll where she will be joined by our inaugural recipient, the legendary Helen Reddy.”
Originally planning to be a classical pianist, Durham studied piano and classical singing at university.
She started to perform blues, gospel and jazz pieces.
In the early ‘60s, while working as a secretary in an ad agency, she met Athol Guy, who encouraged her to sing with his outfit The Seekers at folk clubs and cafes.
They made it to London on a ship, paying for their passage by performing as part of its entertainment lineup.
It was supposed to be just a 10-week stay. But they met with songwriter and producer Tom Springfield, and ‘I’ll Never Find Another You’ reached #1 in the UK.
More chart toppers followed, and with ‘Georgy Girl’ from the movie of that name further broke them into the US, reaching #2, and through Asia.
In 1967, The Seekers set an official all-time record when more than 200,000 people (nearly one tenth of the city’s population at that time) saw their performance at the Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne.
Their TV special The Seekers Down Under scored the biggest TV audience ever and they were all awarded Australians of the Year 1967.
A year later Durham left for a solo career, which included a series of acclaimed albums, tours through Australia and the UK, some acting, and a greater focus on jazz and blues with her jazz pianist husband Ron Edgeworth until his death in 1994.
In May 2013, during The Seekers’ Golden Jubilee tour, Durham suffered a stroke.
It diminished her ability to read and write—both visual language and musical scores. But it did not affect her singing.
Durham said of her induction, “They say the longest journey begins with just one step, but you have to have a dream to start, and I had plenty of dreams.
“It’s such a blessing to have spent my 76 years of life so far in musical expression; so emotionally healing, inspirational and uplifting − first as a soloist aspiring to a life in opera or classical piano, or popular songs or musicals, but finding myself following the teenage trends; singing Dixieland jazz, blues and gospel.
“Then sailing off with three fantastic guys whose voices blended uniquely with my own.
“Unbelievably, we stormed the international music world, at the top of the charts.
“They say destiny happens when you’re making other plans, and that’s how it was.”