Judith Durham

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Judith Durham, OAM (born Judith Mavis Cock, on 3 July 1943) is an Australian jazz singer and musician who became the lead vocalist for the Australian popular folk music group The Seekers in 1963. She left the group in mid-1968 to pursue her solo career. In 1993 Durham began to make sporadic recordings and performances with The Seekers, continuing into the 2000s.


Early life

Judith Durham was born 3 July 1943, at Essendon, Victoria, Australia, to William Alexander Cock DFC, a Navigator and World War II Pathfinder, and his wife Hazel. Durham lived in Hobart, Tasmania, where she attended The Fahan School before moving back to Melbourne in 1956. In Melbourne she was educated at Ruyton Girls' School and, following matriculation, enrolled at RMIT.[1]

Durham at first planned to be a pianist, and she gained the qualification of Associate In Music, Australia (AMusA), in classical piano at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium. She had some professional engagements playing piano. She also had classical vocal training and performed blues, gospel, and jazz pieces. Her singing career began at the age of 18 when she asked Nicholas Ribush, leader of the Melbourne University Jazz Band, one night at the Memphis Jazz Club in Malvern, whether she could sing with the band. In 1963 she began performing at the same club with Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers, using her mother's maiden name of Durham. In that year she also recorded her first EP—"Judy Durham with Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers"—for W&G Records.[2]

Durham was working as a secretary at the J Walter Thompson advertising agency where she met account executive Athol Guy. Guy was in a folk group called the Seekers which sang on Monday nights at a coffee lounge, the Treble Clef, on Toorak Road in Melbourne.

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