Singer-Songwriter Judy Fjell is definitely "one-of-a-kind". Not only are her musical gifts considerable, but they are easily matched by her generosity and energy as a performer and social activist. In addition, there's no shortage of humor in her concerts or her workshops. Audiences may find themselves laughing about things they never knew were funny, or thinking about things in a new light, thanks to her stories and songs. Some of her lyrics and guitar solos quietly carry listeners to the wide open spaces of Montana. Others convey a strong message for compassion and justice - for the planet and for the human race.
Judy's career began as a young teenager in her small Montana home town when she bought a garage sale guitar and began performing some of her favorites from the "Hootenanny!" radio program for the Lutheran Ladies' Aid and American Legion Auxiliary. By the time she was in her thirties she had become an established songwriter on the folk and women's circuits on the West coast and was performing in coffeehouses, taverns, concert venues, festival stages, and fundraisers across the country. She has sung for San Francisco peace marches, NOW conferences (even one in Las Vegas!), Montana Cowboy Poetry Gatherings, GLBT Pride in Boise, New York City coffeehouses, the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, the Northwest Regional Folklife festival in Seattle, rural school students in northern California, senior citizens in Carmel, Unitarian-Universalist fellowships, Methodist churches, women's spirituality groups, concerts in Japan working against domestic violence . . . It's been quite a ride! Most recently she has begun to write and perform guitar solos which are featured on her latest CD, Goin' Over Home. In addition to performing her own work, Judy often collaborates with Malvina Reynolds' daughter, Nancy Schimmel, in "An Evening of Malvinaspirit."
Judy has written over two hundred songs and has recorded 18 albums on her own label, Honey Pie Music, since 1980. She has a well-earned reputation as a multi-level "Musical Activist", having empowered hundreds to find their singing voices. She is the founding director of Music Empowerment Camps (since 1986), Women Making Music Retreats (since 1991), the Canta Bella Women's Chorus (since 1996), the Montana Women's Chorus (since 1997), and currently directs the Helena chapter of the Montana Women's Chorus.
Judy teaches guitar, voice, and ukulele at her studio in Helena and often teaches Music Empowerment workshops. She holds bachelors degrees in Art, Asian Studies, and Elementary Education and spent several years teaching music in the Oregon public schools in the late 70s. She has served as president of Music EdVentures, Inc. (www.musicedventures.org) and has traveled several times to Japan to teach English through folk songs and games for English EdVentures, Inc. and NPO SMILE. She has also taught voice, songwriting and guitar several times at the Puget Sound Guitar Workshop. She has written Judy Fjell's Beginner Ukulele Book 1, which features "tried-and-true" songs that children and adults love to sing with a colored sticker method that makes it possible for anyone to learn to play.
Judy often leads music and worship services for Unitarian Universalist fellowships and churches throughout the west, singing from her Open Your Heart Songbook: Songs of Spirit, Joy, and Reverence for Religious Liberals and Spiritual Seekers. She tours by car whenever possible so that she and her faithful dog Halley can enjoy the scenery, watch the birds, and reconnect with the many friends with whom she has shared music over the years. Those long quiet hours in the car continue to spawn some of Judy's best loved songs. For more information on Judy's upcoming schedule check our Events Calendar.