Copyright © Judy Street
Judy was born in Indiana. Her musical influence came from her father, who was a classically trained pianist, music teacher and club performer, her mother who played flute in the high school marching band and taught accordion and piano lessons. In 1955, her family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, for her father to perform and open a music studio. At an early age, Judy started singing and playing accordion and percussion with her father. Her earliest influences being singers, Barbra Streisand, Nat King Cole, Bonnie Raitt and Karen Carpenter.
Judy was singing in a local band in Phoenix, when Conrad Bachman, an actor/manager, heard her, asked, “Do you want to be a star?” While managing Judy's career, he relocated her to California to record a 45 Single, “What” and “You Turn Me On.” The later song was originally slated to be the "A" side of the record. “WHAT” turned out to be even bigger! Judy states, " H. B. Barnum wrote and co-wrote the songs. He was an artist/producer/arranger in Hollywood that Conrad hired to make this record in 1968. The Strider Label logo was designed by an actor, Little John.”
Judy continued to sing with her band in clubs around California. Without her knowledge, the record was being discovered in LA by Ian Dewhirst and sent to England in the summer of 1976 where it was played by DJ, Neil Rushton at the Manchester Ritz All-Dayer & later by DJ’s at Wigan Casino. In 1978, “WHAT” was voted on by the fans at Wigan Casino in the Blues & Soul Magazine as the number ONE favorite song. “WHAT” by Judy Street was #23 in the “Northern Soul Top 500 hits” book by Kev Roberts.
Many years later, in1996-1997, with the help of the Internet, Judy discovered her story about the hit “WHAT.” At first it was all unbelievable, but as the story kept unfolding, Judy learned how massive her hit really was to so many Northern Soul fans. Dancers who had grown up kicking, spinning, clapping, singing along and living to that song. How everyone thought Judy was a black Motown artist from Detroit. How Judy was called a Legendary Artist by her NS fans. How everyone loved her picture taken in 1968 in the studio, with the short pixie hairdo. How sometimes, Judy’s identity was confused with Tina Mason’s version of “What” on Capitol records. And how many re-pressings were reproduced and sold of her hit song! “WHAT”
The very first time, NS fans met Judy Street was in Blackpool, England in 2012. She performed her hit song, “WHAT” at the Tower to over 6000 dancers! Kev Roberts and Richard Searling invited her and even let her be the fill-in DJ for a song or two. The winner of the dance competition, James Whitehead, taught her the NS dance steps.
The next visit was to Skegness, England in 2014, for the Butlins’s Northern Soul Weekender. Hosted by the original DJ at Wigan Casino, Russ Winstanley, Judy performed a whole show of Northern Soul Cover songs. The album “Cover Girl” was recorded for this performance. The following weekend found her doing the Cover Girl show in Preston, England at Preston’s Got Soul.
“What” an honor it has been for Judy to be known as the singer of “What can I do, What can I say, Don’t let it end this way!”