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Judith Durham, OAM (born as 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 Essendonmarker, Victoriamarker, Australia, to William Alexander Cock DFC, a Navigator and World War II Pathfinder, and his wife Hazel. Durham lived in Hobartmarker, Tasmaniamarker, where she attended The Fahan Schoolmarker before moving back to Melbourne in 1956. In Melbourne she was educated at Ruyton Girls' Schoolmarker and, following matriculation, enrolled at RMITmarker.

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 Melbournemarker 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 Malvernmarker, 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.

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.

The Seekers

The Seekers consisted of Durham, Athol Guy, Bruce Woodley, and Keith Potger, the last being an ABC radio producer. It was through Keith Potger's position that the three were able to make a demo tape in their spare time. This was given to W&G Records, which wanted another sample of Durham's voice before agreeing to record a Jazz Preachers album. Instead W&G signed The Seekers for an album, Introducing the Seekers, in 1963. (Keith Potger does not appear on the album cover because he was not allowed to have a second job.) Durham, however, recorded two other songs with the Jazz Preachers, "Muddy Water" (which appeared on their album Jazz From the Pulpit) and "Trombone Frankie" (an adapted version of Bessie Smith's "Trombie Cholly").

In early 1964 the Seekers sailed to the United Kingdommarker on the S.S. Fairsky on which the group provided the musical entertainment. Originally they had planned to return after 10 weeks, but they received a steady stream of bookings through the Grade Agency because they had sent the agency a copy of their first album. In November 1964 The Seekers released "I'll Never Find Another You" composed by Tom Springfield. In February 1965 the record reached number one in the UK and Australia.

Solo career

Durham returned to Australia in August 1968 and her first solo television special screened on the Nine Network in the September. During her solo career she has released albums titled For Christmas With Love, Gift Of Song, and Climb Ev'ry Mountain. In the 1970s she returned to traditional jazz and recorded Volumes 1 and 2 of The Hottest Band In Town and The Hot Jazz Duo. She then retired to Queenslandmarker but wrote songs occasionally.

In 1994 Durham began recording albums again, including Mona Lisas in 1996 under the direction of producer Gus Dudgeon. This was re-released as Always There in 1998 with the addition of Durham's solo recording of fellow Seeker Bruce Woodley's "I am Australian" (with Russell Hitchcock of Air Supply and Mandawuy Yunupingu of Yothu Yindi) and the Smith Family theme song of the title. Her recording of "Always There" was first released on the 1997 double CD Anthems, which also featured Bruce Woodley's "Common Ground" and the Seekers' "Advance Australia Fair" arrangement.

In 2000 Durham's album Let Me Find Love was re-released as Hold on To Your Dream, with the addition of "Australia Land of Today" (which she had written). In 2001 she did another Australian tour, and in 2003 she toured the UK to celebrate her 60th birthday. Her birthday concert at the Royal Festival Hallmarker in Londonmarker was filmed and released on DVD in late 2004.

In 2006, The Seekers were awarded the Key To The City of Melbourne by the Lord Mayor John So. As part of the ceremony, Judith Durham sang part of her song "Seldom Melbourne Leaves My Mind" and was later invited by the Lord Mayor's Charitable Fund to record the song, as a fundraiser, with Orchestra Victoria. The decision was then made to record Judith's entire Australian Cities Suite with all proceeds from the sale of the CD to go to the charitable sector. The album was released in October 2008. The project is to benefit charities like the Motor Neurone Disease Association of Australia (Judith is national patron) and Orchestra Victoria, in addition to other charities which benefit from the Lord Mayor's Charitable Fund or its national affiliated network United Way.

By 2009 Durham's rendition of "A Perfect Day" by Carrie Jacobs-Bond achieved more hits on YouTube than even the version by Paul Robeson but was withdrawn from availability because of questions involving access to intellectual property.

The Australian Cities Suite features songs for all the capital cities including
"Sydney Girl Of My Dreams"
"Happy Years I Spent In Hobart" (with Judith's heartfelt memories of her childhood in Tasmania)
"Australia Land Of Today" (her emotional love song for the nation)

On 13 February 2009, Durham made a surprise return to the Myer Music Bowl when she performed the closing number at the "RocKwiz Salutes the Bowl - Sidney Myer Music Bowl 50th Anniversary" with a reprise of "The Carnival is Over".

On 23 May 2009, Durham performed a one hour 'a cappella' concert in Melbourne as a launch for her album Up Close & Personal Vol 1.A Global First? A Cappella Solo Recitals - Judith's First Melbourne Concerts In 8 Years

Personal life

On 21 November 1969, she married her musical director, British pianist Ron Edgeworth, in Melbourne. They lived in the UK and Switzerlandmarker until the mid 1980s when they bought property in Nambourmarker, Queenslandmarker, Australia.

In 1990 Durham, Edgeworth, and their tour manager Peter Summers were involved in a car accident on the Calder Freeway. The driver of the other car died at the scene, and Durham sustained a fractured wrist and leg. The response from her fans made Durham consider getting back together with the other Seekers for the silver jubilee show. This reunion, however, was brief when Edgeworth was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. He died on 10 December 1994 with Durham by his side.

In the late 1990s Durham was stalked by her former personal assistant, a woman who sent her dozens of doormats through the post. The woman was subsequently prosecuted.

Solo releases

  • 1963 Judy Durham & Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers [EP]
  • 1964 Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers & Judy Durham - Trombone Frankie [45]
  • 1967 "The Olive Tree"/"The Non-Performing Lion Quickstep" [45]
  • 1967 "Again and Again"/"Memories" [45]
  • 1969 For Christmas With Love [Gramophone record|LP]
  • 1970 Gift of Song LP
  • 1971 Climb Every Mountain LP
  • 1973 JD & The Hottest Band in Town Vol. 1 LP
  • 1974 JD & The Hottest Band in Town Vol. 2 LP
  • 1980 The Hot Jazz Duo LP
  • 1992 "Australia Land of Today" [CD Single]
  • 1994 Let Me Find Love [CD]
  • 1996 Mona Lisas [CD]
  • 1998 Always There [CD]
  • 2002 JD and the Melbourne Welsh Male Choir [CD]
  • 2000 Hold on To Your Dream [CD]
  • 2003 Diamond Night [DVD]
  • 2009 Judith Durham Up Close & Personal – Volume 1 [CD]CD Release Of Judith’s ‘Up Close & Personal – Volume 1’ Album
  • 2009 Judith Durham’s Advance Australia Fair ... A Lyric For Contemporary Australia [CD]CD Release Of ‘Judith Durham’s Advance Australia Fair’ In Reconciliation Week

With the exception of the Jazz EP and the 1970s albums Gift of Song and Climb Every Mountain, all of Durham's solo records have been re-released on CD.

Durham has also contributed to various compilations, including the CD single Yil Lull, Slowly Gently for the Motor Neurone Disease fundraiser, One Man's Journey, and most recently an ethnic version of The Carnival is Over with Melbourne group Inka Marka for the Melbourne Immigration Museum's compilation CD This is the Place For a Song. In 2007 Durham also made a cameo appearance on English Garden, a bonus track featured only on the digital download version of the new Silverchair album Young Modern.


  1. Judith Durham Official Web Site
  2. In 1994 her authorised biography Colours Of My Life: The Judith Durham Story by Graham Simpson was first published by Random House Australia. The book was updated and reprinted in 1998 and 2000; in 2003 it was again and updated and published by Virgin Books.
  3. Cauchi, Stephen (12 September 1998). "Durham's stalker loses appeal". The Age, p. 7.


  • Simpson, Graham. Colours of my life: The Judith Durham story. Melbourne: Random House Australia, 1994, 1998, 2000; Virgin Books, 2004. ISBN 1852270381.

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