By Dylon Goris
Photos: D. Goris
“I think I know what the Spanish like. You’re like fire!” exclaimed Judith Owen as the audience roared in approval of her performance at the Sala Clamores jazz club. The Welsh singer returned to Madrid on the 23rd of October, the final stop on her European “redisCOVERed” tour. Her performance was not one to be easily forgotten. With percussionist Pedro Segundo by her side, Judith is able to captivate her audience with her lush voice as she covers many of the past century’s greatest hits.
Judith’s latest album, “RedisCOVERed”, is not your ordinary cover album. Met with critical acclaim, it comprises a variety of songs that many of us have come to know and love. Judith takes these classic anthems and artfully reimagines them into a new form that is not only surprising but also truly delightful. “To hear an audience try to make sense of a song they think they know is exciting,” she says of the audience’s reaction to hearing her distinctive versions of these familiar songs.
Judith masterfully transforms Grease’s classic anthem “Summer Nights” into a nostalgic ballad about her first love. She also turns Ed Sheeran’s club hit, “Shape of You”, into a jazzy yet soulful tune that carries the sonic flavor of the place Judith now calls home, New Orleans, to which she attributes her development as an artist. “I sing from the soul; it’s why I was accepted so quickly in New Orleans,” she says, and indeed she does. Judith’s voice, thick with passion and emotion, is a powerful tool with which she uses the words of other artists to tell a story very much her own. And while she is at it, she makes the audience experience the good old popular songs in “RedisCOVERed” in an entirely new way.
Judith is no stranger to emotion, and has been using music to cope with her emotions since she was a child. Dealing with a family history of mental illness and tragedy throughout her formative years, including the death of her mother, Judith believes her weekends at the opera house and her self-expression through music have saved her life. Talking about her battles with depression and anxiety that have haunted her throughout most of her life, she admits, “Music got me out every time.”
Through her music, Judith is able to heal herself while providing the opportunity for her listeners to find similar salvation. “My job is to give people permission to feel,” Owen says about her mission as an artist. “Feeling is where the healing is.
Sitting in the audience at one of her shows is a divine experience. Stopping in Madrid’s Sala Clamores with the company of Portuguese percussionist Pedro Segundo, the duo is like magic on stage. Segundo’s powerful percussion accentuates the passion in Owen’s voice, making the small jazz hall seem more like a night at the opera that Owen frequented as a young girl.
As a youth, Owen studied drama in performing arts school, and her training as a professional actress translates beautifully into her live performances. “My acting history is what allows me to be as large as I am,” Owen explains, and she certainly does transform into a larger-than-life presence on stage. The audience cheered and applauded her after every song, only stopping when Judith would speak up to tell a story about the next song that she sang — a process that infallably lends a personal touch to the show.
Witty and often spontaneous, she makes the audience laugh with her. She cracks jokes with individual audience members and with Pedro Segundo while making light of certain tragic moments in her own life. “I enjoy making the audience laugh. I know that to make people laugh means that their guard drops … and then I can really get inside their skin,” Owen explains, “I know that you have to laugh in order to be able to cry.”
If you’ve ever attended one of her concerts, you’d know this is true, as she switches from sharp humor to a melancholy ballad with an artisanal execution that leaves the audience feeling as if they themselves had lived out the lyrics of the song. Her enthralling performance at Sala Clamores ended with a double encore; the audience simply could not bear to part with the talented and marvelous performer.
But Madrid is likely to have the pleasure of hosting Owen again; she says there’s more music on the way. A sequel to her album, to be titled “redisCOVERed II,” is slated to be next on the singer’s impressive discography, featuring covers of songs such as “S.O.S” by Abba, Jess Glynne’s “Hold My Hand,” and perhaps even a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire, as Judith Owen teased about covering the famous funk group’s smash hit, “September.
Whatever songs Judith chooses to make her own on her next project, we can be sure that audiences around the world will love them. Everyone will find new emotions in the songs they thought they knew so well.
Related post: “I Don’t Do Karaoke,” https://www.guidepost.es/i-dont-do-karaoke/