Saturday, August 20, 2011

Interview with Judy Welden


Interview with Judy Welden

Lamitschka:  Music has many new fans throughout Europe who may be hearing about you for the first time. How would you describe yourself and the music you play to someone who has never seen or heard you?

Judy Welden:  I write or co-write 98% of my material. Writing from my heart (most of it is inspired) I also sing from my heart and soul, writing in most every style (except heavy metal and hip hop), however my best singing style is country blues and Gospel.

Lamitschka:  How was the last year for you? What were your highlights?

Judy Welden:  It‘s been a great year…except that my mother passed away last month. I‘ve accepted that because she lived a good, long life, was ready to go.. and is in a better place. Some good news is that last fall I got a patent on my bandana hat, that I‘d written up myself. Then a few months ago, I registered the name ‘bandana hat‘ and no one else can use that name now. As far as my music goes, that is going strong also. I‘ve been writing and recording many new songs, some written with my friend and promoter, Rhonnie Scheuerman, of Rhonbob Promotions.

Lamitschka:  What is your latest CD and how's it doing?

Judy Welden:  “SHOP TILL I DROP“ - It is a single song release, is doing quite well, just released in July. It‘s #14 on the CMP Top 30 chart. It is for sale at CD Baby and listed with my 30 songs at numberonemusic.com, to be downloaded. Many Djs are playing it at this time. Gary Farmer produced wonderful tracks for the song.
 
Lamitschka:  How did you choose the title for the CD?  Is there a story behind the name?

Judy Welden:  It was my promoter‘s idea.. . She said she kept seeing those words in ads, etc, and the fact that so many women love to shop, we knew lots of them could relate to it. I helped with the lyrics and then put a melody to it. I sing lead and all the harmony parts as well.

Lamitschka:  Do you write the songs yourself? If not, how do you go about finding the songs for your CD?

Judy Welden:  Rhonnie Scheuerman and I co-wrote it as I wrote above. I write most all my lyrics, unless like in the case of Rhonnie, she send me a lyric to co-write with her. When I write a song myself, I always start with a lyric, before adding a melody. As a publisher, I know who writes the best melodies. So if I write a lyric and want someone else to put a melody to it, I know just who to contact, depending on my lyric content.

Lamitschka:  Please tell us about the songs on your album (influences, etc).  


Judy Welden:  I‘ve not put out a new LP since 2006. It had 18 songs, 9 of which were new and the others had been released previously. Since country blues is my best style, I wanted the concept to be blues,
country blues, a few Gospel songs, and a bit of jazz. It‘s title is PAIN SHY, BLUES & TRIBULATION. The first song on it is “ I‘M PAIN SHY“ which went to #1 on an Indie chart when it was first released. It‘s been released a second time.. and did very well that time also. There
is a video of it at youtube.com also. Many of the songs on that CD went to #1 or high on the Indie charts. The songs inc. are: Blues Had Been My Handle, Come On Home*, Confusion* (What‘s the Solution), Co-Written Blues, Don‘t Say You Love Me, Get Lost Mr. Bad News, Heart on a Rampage, Hurry Up Sunrise, If You‘re Man Enough, I‘m Hittin‘ the Road*, I‘m Pain Shy*, Just Leave Me Alone, Peace in the Valley*, Roller Coaster Ride, Shades of Blue, Too Old Blues. I‘m releasing them as monthly singles on various Comp. Cds when I don‘t have a new song to release.


Lamitschka:  What kind of songs do you like to record the most?

Judy Welden: Ones that have a message and lots of heart & soul. They can be fun and up tempo, but most every song I‘ve ever recorded has a message I want to convey. I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea and can‘t go back to sleep until I get up and write it quickly down. I edit it and finish it later though. Often I write a complete song in my head, before setting down with a pen and paper. Like for instance when I‘m in a pool (often write songs when in water) or on a walk. Then when I get home I write it all out and edit it. Funny thing is that I don‘t forget the words I‘d written in my head! : )  
Lamitschka:  You did a duet with Phil Coley How did that happen to come about?

Judy Welden: I‘ve done duets with 5 guys and 3 females; however I‘ve done the most with Phil Coley and that includes the last one. Titled THE LESSON FROM NOAH, this is one that I woke up thinking about and had to write down so I could go back to sleep. If definitely was inspired and really has a strong message for today. Because we‘re ignoring God (like back in Noah‘s day) all sorts of turmoil is happening all over the world. We‘ve taken his name from schools and government and there is more evil worldwide than ever before. I‘d earlier done a bluegrass song with Phil and I wanted this one to be done in a bluegrass style also. I asked Phil to think ‘Grascals‘ as they are very popular now, especially with the younger generation. Phil did exactly that and the song has had lots of airplay. Not just with stations that play Christian music, but with others as well.  Phil wrote the melody, produced the tracks, and played all the instruments.
Lamitschka:  What is your favorite song among all the songs you have recorded and what's the story behind it?

Judy Welden: I have many, but my all-time favorite is COME ON HOME. It was first released on my JUDY WELDEN COUNTRY HITS - ‘92 - ‘98 and was taken to Europe with me in 1998.. where I sang it in 7 countries. It was on the charts with major singers there, like Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, etc. I had wanted to have a song with the same feel as DESPERADO, which is the cover song I‘ve done for years, that fans like so much. I wrote the lyrics and music to it, but Phil made the chorus a bit stronger, so I gave him writing credit. My brother is a DJ (from PA) and he thinks this is my best original song also. There is a video of it at you tube.com and it is also one of the songs at numberonemusic.com

Lamitschka:  How much creative control do you have over your music?

Judy Welden: Almost total. Although I do give the producer creative liberty when producing the tracks. I‘m usually satisfied, and tend to use the same producers over and over. I‘ve tried some new ones recently, mostly because I‘ve had a bit of a financial crisis with having to take too many trips in the past months and I‘ve found producers who work very reasonably, but are still very talented.


Lamitschka:  There's a lot of work that goes into a number one hit. What did it take to make it in your case?

Judy Welden:  My first number one hit was “I‘M HITTIN‘ THE ROAD“. It is a true story song as many of mine are. For a couple of years, I‘d released my songs on other‘s Compilation Cds, and did okay, but then decided to start my own record labels (Treasure Coast, for country & pop releases and Heartfelt Hits for Christian releases). I would have 12 or 15 songs by singer/songwriters (including one or two of my own compositions) on each release and send to stations worldwide. This was before the time when songs or Cds could be sent in MP3 files, so I sent mine snail mail. I also arranged the tracks that were sent to me, designed the jackets, wrote & included bios of the artists, plus sent a self-addressed, postage-free, postcard, so Djs could let me know which songs they were playing. Many of these artists were on the charts as was I. I believe it was as a result of the airplay from songs on one the first Cds I sent out that put “I‘M HITTIN‘ THE ROAD“ in the number 1 spot of the Music Review chart. I‘ve had 13 #1 songs on that Chart .. which is still in existence.

Lamitschka:  Do you have any interesting stories about how fans have been affected by your music?

Judy Welden: Fans tell me how much my music moves them, but one story stands out. I was in Nashville recording my first album, SHADES OF BLUE, and was staying at a motel that had a lounge called “The Other Mother“ . They had different players (usually a single guitarist) performing every night. During the day I‘d record in the morning, then do some sightseeing in the afternoon and at night would sing a song or two with the player who was performing that night in the lounge. The regulars liked the way I sang “HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN“ and would request it. The last night there I noticed a table of guys who‘d been rather boisterous before I started singing that song.. became very quiet and listened intently. After I‘d sung it… I was on my way to the restroom and had to pass by their table.  One of them grabbed my hand to stop me and asked if I was free. I said I‘d be back soon …“ No“ he said ..“I don‘t mean now.. I mean are you available to sing with our band?“ It turned out they were the house band at a popular night spot in town but soon would be touring with Alabama. Whoa, I thought… this is quite an honor.. The leader of the band asked me to join them on the strength of hearing that one song & they‘d all decided I should be their lead singer. I had to politely inform them I was not able to travel, worked in my husband‘s chiropractic office when I was not putting out compilations and recording songs. But wow .. What a ‘high‘. .. it was a great moment in my career. Later I did travel in Europe one summer, but though my husband does support my music in most respects, he‘s never wanted me to travel. Always sang locally in the 3 cities in which we‘ve lived since we were married in 1983. I was a widow before that. My late husband Dick never wanted me to sing period! Another story!
Lamitschka:  Who inspires you musically and how deep do your musical roots run?

Judy Welden:  My mother sang (mostly in church) and I grew up listening to Gospel and also songs from her day, the standards, they are called today. I liked Ella Fitzgerald when I was younger and also later liked jazz which my late husband and I listened to when we were first married. Then we started buying country rock albums and country folk. I liked the Eagles, America, Crosby Stills, & Nash. I guess the female singer I liked best at that time was Linda Ronstadt and also Roberta Flack. You could call them my main influences when I started singing in my own and others‘ bands as they both sing with a lot of soul. I guess my roots started early, with loving soul.. back when I listened to Ella Fitzgerald. My mother didn‘t like country music, so it wasn‘t played at our home at all when I was growing up. I really got into it when my late husband Dick and I moved to W. VA in the 70‘s.

Lamitschka:  What do you think about today's music scene versus its past and where do you see it going in the future?

Judy Welden: I loved the music of the 50‘s, 60‘s & 70‘s but these days I like country music better than pop. For one thing you can understand the lyrics… and I‘m really into great lyrics. I‘m not that crazy about the pop music today .. with the likes of Lady GaGa; however young people love it and they are our future. I‘d like to think that music will turn around someday and be more melodic and not just noise as a lot of it is today.

Lamitschka:  What do you think about today's music industry?

Judy Welden: They are trying to be more fair, but I doubt that Indies will ever have the same ‘in roads‘ as the Majors. At least with the internet, we are getting lots of airplay, but it is still difficult to make any real money with it; and it is impossible to get on the bigger charts unless you put out thousands of dollars in promotion. I am lucky to have affordable promotion with my friend and promoter, Rhonnie Scheuerman. With her help, I‘ve gone pretty darn far, but there is just so much she or others can do unless one has the funds to pay the high-priced promoters who call the radio stations daily on one‘s behalf. The only way I could afford that is if a company wants to market my patented bandana hats. I have a company helping me to find a company to either license or distribute them.

Lamitschka:  If you had the chance to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

Judy Welden: Popularity would/should be on talent alone (the strength of a song, or the singer) and not on who can afford to put out the most money for promotion.  I‘d like to see that changed.. but with so much talent out there, I‘m sure it would be quite a challenge.
Lamitschka:  Are you doing anything to take music beyond its current borders or are you happy where it is?

Judy Welden: I‘m trying new genres, like bluegrass. I‘ve always written songs in many genres.. Now I‘m starting to record in those genres as well. Also am a member of some online sites, like Sonic Bids, to try and get my music into films.

Lamitschka:  What was your big break that got you into the music business?

Judy Welden: I‘ve written poems and songs since I was young, but I first realized I ‘had a voice‘ when during one of my few piano lessons (I‘m mostly self-taught) the professional entertainer, who was giving me some tips, recorded me (unbeknownst to me) when I was singing and playing WHEN SUNNY GETS BLUE). He‘d asked me to sing as I played… and was very impressed with it. He encouraged me to send it to HOLLYWOOD SONG JUBILEE, and he wasn‘t surprised at all when it won 1st place in the Standard division. I was though.. Was shocked! : ) But anyway, I realized I must be good enough.. and should start writing and singing my own songs. I became a very prolific writer, often writing 4 or 5 songs over a weekend. The late Gary Buck heard of me, wanted to hear some songs and wanted to produce my first album in Nashville, with all the name players. After I recorded it, Gary & Les Ladd included TOO OLD BLUES on their compilation CD. That was the first song I‘d released as a single. It got a lot of airplay and I even got a small royalty on it. I was on my way!  
Lamitschka:  What inspired you to become a songwriter?

Judy Welden:  I wrote poetry first, and once won a 4th place in a National contest. It turned out well because I‘d written it about my daughter and used the tune of her favorite song in order to get the words in good rhythm. Later I recorded it to the tune of her fav. song (just a demo for her to hear) and realized how easy it was for me to write a melody when the song lyrics (or a poem) was in perfect rhythm. When my late husband drowned, it was pouring out my heart in poems & later, songs that kept me centered and from being so sad. Writing is certainly good therapy. My early songs were sad for the most part, but after I got all of that pain out of my system, I was able to write positive songs, many of which were uptemo and fun. After winning many songwriter awards, I was asked to start a songwriter group in Port St. Lucie, FL I called it TREASURE COAST SONGWRITERS ASSN (TCSA) and after I not longer could spend as much time with it, I became the advisor.

Lamitschka:  What drives you?

Judy Welden: Trying to be the best I can be.. . And always working toward my goal which is to have one or more of my songs recorded by a major singer and also having songs in films or TV. I have a screenplay I wrote several years ago… sort of a docudrama.. That has 16 of my songs in it.. Not a musical per se, though. The songs are mostly played in the background as they go along with the plot. This story is based loosely on my own life.

Lamitschka:  What has been your greatest challenge in music business?

Judy Welden: Those who didn‘t believe in me. I‘ve had lots of criticism (especially earlier when I was promoting others, working 60 + hours a week, working for my husband at the same time) when I‘d have a few ‘flat‘ notes in my recordings. It‘s well-known when one is extra tired, their voice goes flat. These days I‘m not quite as busy and can take my time to have a song rehearsed well before going into the studio. I usually do my songs, even the harmony, in one take. Back in the 90‘s the studios where I did my vocals did not have pro tools. Since I was so very busy, I‘d have to rush into the studio without much, if any, rehearsal time. Being that I did the songs in one take usually, it is amazing they turned out as well as they did. I didn‘t have a lot of money, so I did what I had to do. I believe part of the problem with less than perfect vocals back then was because I‘d always hoped to find others to sing my songs, never suspecting I‘d become the artist I am today. For years I thought of myself more as a songwriter than an artist. So no one was more surprised than me that I‘ve been getting so many #1 songs (and many other songs in the top 10) for nearly 20 years now! At numberonemusic.com I am #2 in of the Top 5 of Country Pop and also Christian Country. For 16 months I was #1, but now Rascal Flatts is #1 and I am #2 there. I‘ve had over 2 million plays there, and I still find that amazing!

Lamitschka:  What moments in your career stand out in your memory as highlights and achievements which you are proud of?

Judy Welden:  When I sang at the Zevenbergen Festival (Holland) with many of my peers. Another time was when I sang NATURAL HIGHS (co-written and sung with my son-in-law Gary Wayne) at a large meeting of folks who suffered from addiction. The song had been written to encourage young people to get ‘high‘ on natural things, not alcohol or drugs. Also, when I sang HURRY UP SUNRISE at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Kitty Wells was on before me and I always tease that she was my opening act! : ) There were times I had larger audiences than these,.. but they stand out most to me as special times I‘ll always remember about my career.

Lamitschka:  Any thoughts of retirement ahead?

Judy Welden:  Not in the near future. I figure I might be able to sing for another 10 years, but will be able to write songs as long as the good Lord inspires them… or until I get Old timer‘s disease, whichever comes first! : ) 
Lamitschka:  When you get time off, how do you like to relax?

Judy Welden:  I do water aerobics and takes photos. I hope to paint some day.. Also rewrite my screenplay. I sent it to a screenwriting contest and later had it critiqued; was told it was just 3 points from being in the semi-finals. I‘m sure I‘ll rewrite it someday, but I‘m so busy with my music career and also selling items in my eBay store (to make money for promoting my music) that I may have to wait until I can no longer sing very well! : )

Lamitschka:  Many music fans today get their information about artists online. Do you have your own website and what will fans find there?

Judy Welden: Yes, http://www.judywelden.com Also, http://www.numberonemusic.com/judywelden (where they can download or listen to 30 of my songs) Have 20 videos on you tube: http://www.youtube.com/judywelden plus all the Cds can be heard at CD Baby.  http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/JudyWelden Both single and full length albums may be purchased there.
Lamitschka:  What message would you like to send your European fans?

Judy Welden:  Thank you for your continued support. I hope I get to come back there for a tour. It‘s been 13 long years since I was there.. And that‘s waaaaayyy tooooo long! : ) Listen to my music at any of the sites given here and request them on your local radio show. If your DJ doesn‘t have that song, have them contact me at my email address: judy@judywelden.com

Lamitschka:  Fans are always hungry for good road stories. Do you have one you can share with us (come on dont be shy)?

Judy Welden:  The summer of ‘98, when I sang in 7 countries in Europe, I was singing one night at the Big Ben, in Munich Germany. The owner of the second largest beer hall (second only to the Hofbrau House) was there and he liked my singing. He didn‘t speak hardly any English, but he had a friend of his, who spoke a little better, but not much, ask me to sing at his outdoor beer garden the following night. I told the friend I had a lot of activities planned for the next day, had a ticket to tour their famous Neuschwanstein Castle, etc. I said I’d stop in if I got back in time. I don’t think he understood there was a good chance I might not be there. Two nights later when I was singing at Big Bend, the vibe was totally different from when they were all loving me. In fact one man came up to me and seemed to be cursing. I had no idea what he was saying until low and behold the man who owned the beer hall came in, saw me …glared, in fact .. and started what sounded like cursing. I went up to his friend who spoke better English to see what was wrong. Turned out he
had hired extra musicians, had made a flyer, posted the CD (he’d earlier purchased from me) and told everyone I’d be there. I could then see why he was angry. Talk about miscommunication! Geez! Well, I really felt bad .. Did my best to apologize, saying it was late when I got back from all
my siteseeing..was dead tired also. Well, I was upset too, when I’d learned I could have made five
hundred dollars just to sing a few songs! That in itself was amazing. It was the year of the soccer cup and most all the venues had the games on TV instead of live music. Most of the musicians were playing for tips on the streets that summer. I was lucky to have a few paid engagements.



Christian Lamitschka ( Ch.Lamitschka@t-online.de )











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