|A B O U T J U D E|
Jude's Unoffical Biography*
Jude Johnstone was raised near her grandfather's blueberry farm in Maine and spent her childhood summers there picking berries in the fields. But for all the pastoral images that tidbit of musical trivia conjures, Johnstone dreamed of a life more akin to that of Chrissie Hynde than Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.
Johnstone began writing songs shortly after discovering the piano at around eight years of age. Her songwriting proved to be more than just the passing interest of a precocious child, but instead grew into a passion fueled by the music of the Beatles, Lowell George, Sarah Vaughn, and Glenn Miller. When Johnstone reached the age of nineteen, she decided to pursue her dream of becoming a singer/songwriter and moved to Los Angeles, honing her singing and songwriting skills in the local clubs and studios. Unfortunately, her arrival in Los Angeles coincided with the somewhat dubious descent of disco on that music mecca. Johnstone's introspective, literate songs had little in common with that genre of music and, therefore, didn't make her the type of artist the record companies were interested in signing.
This initial rejection--while surely a disheartening blow to Johnstone's confidence--did not herald the end of her career in music. Instead, Johnstone focused her attention on songwriting and secured what was to become a longstanding and successful music publishing deal. Johnstone's songs continue to be covered by some of the industry's top recording artists, including Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, and Bette Midler, just to name a few. Johnstone wrote "The Woman Before Me," which was a # 1 song for Trisha Yearwood and won Johnstone the BMI Songwriter's Award. A few years later, Johnstone penned the title track to Johnny Cash's Grammy-winning album, Unchained.
Johnstone's initial professional songwriting successes coincided with her successful romantic partnering with singer/songwriter/producer, Charles Duncan. The two married while both were living and working in the music industry in Los Angeles and subsequently "co-produced" two daughters in the years that followed. Despite her new role as wife and mother, and her family's subsequent exodus from Los Angeles, Johnstone continued to write several hits for other artists.
While Johnstone surely enjoyed and appreciated the success she had as the writer of hit songs for other singers, she decided to take another shot at the recording career she had always dreamed of. So, in 2002, with disco being nothing more than a mirror ball memory, Johnstone successfully released her first CD, Coming of Age, on the independent recording label, Bojak Records. The CD featured 11 tracks written by Johnstone and featured guest performances by many of the artists for whom Johnstone had written hits. The CD quickly rose to the #6 position on Amazon's Best Seller's List and was the #1 selling CD for Burnside Distribution Company (BDC) that year.
Johnstone's sophomore CD, On A Good Day, was released in February of 2005 and continued to explore the themes of her first recording on 11 new and original songs. The universal topics of soured love, dreams denied or deferred, and mortality are addressed with Johnstone's trademark elegant and eloquent style throughout. And, once again, some of Johnstone's recording artist friends (Jackson Browne, Rodney Crowell, Julie Miller, and Bonnie Raitt) provide heartfelt guest performances.
In 2007, Jude released her first jazz and torch-influenced cd, Blue Light. This cd continued to explore Jude's ever-present themes of love and loss, but this time Jude wrapped her lyrics around timeless melodies inspired by the music she heard rising from her father's record player as a child.
2008 found Jude releasing Mr. Sun, another cd of jazz and torch-influenced songs that surely satisfied Jude's long-time fans as well as earned her many more.
Mr. Sun was followed by Jude's 2011 release, Quiet Girl, which was a return to Jude's earlier releases and featured guest appearances by Emmylou Harris, and Jimmy Lafave, and Jude's youngest daughter, Ray.
Jude's latest cd, Shatter, will be released in 2013 and features some of Jude's most ambitious work to date.
Johnstone currently makes her home in a small, seaside village in California. And while having attained the status of a well-respected singer and songwriter whose work is widely known and praised, Jude still makes time for such subdued hobbies as photography, cooking, and yes, even catalog shopping. Perhaps there is a little Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm in Johnstone afterall.
*Jude's official biography can be read on Jude's official web site