Sheffield date for singer Judith Owen performing songs from her acclaimed covers album
Singer-songwriter Judith Owen performs a special evening of covers of some of her favourite songs in Sheffield – but she declares “I don’t do karaoke”.
Instead, Judith is performing smokily jazz-inflected takes on other artists’ work at The Greystones in Sheffield on Monday (October 21). The tour is based on her latest album, redisCOVERed.
Judith’s version of hip hop star Blake’s Hotline Bling was inspired by her husband, comedian Harry Shearer of This Is Spinal Tap and The Simpsons fame.
“Drake is the ultimate booty call in Hotline Bling. It’s the last song on planet Earth you thought I would cover,” said Judith.
“I didn’t want it to just be about songs I’ve loved and enjoyed and wrapped around life experiences. Life is happening now.
“I asked my husband what would be the most bonkers song. He didn’t even mess about, said ‘Hotline Bling’.”
She turned it into a song about waiting for that lover’s phone call that never comes, basing her intrepretation on memories of waiting for a guy to call who just wasn’t that into her.
“It has a certain tragedy to it,” said Judith, “some woman on the edge of losing her mind.
“That’s really how I felt, living in my own sad imagination and thinking that you can make someone love you.”
On redisCOVERed, Judith won critical praise for her reimaginings of a diverse catalogue of tracks including Soundgarden’s breakthrough hit Black Hole Sun, Summer Nights from the musical Grease and Deep Purple’s iconic Smoke on the Water.
As one critic remarked, she has a unique ability to make a song her own, bringing new meaning to the lyrics, as shown by the Drake experiment.
Judith said: “I make the joke about I don’t do karaoke. I don’t see the point of doing songs like the originals. It’s always best and always will be best.
“If I bring something special, unique and personal, to me that’s only better.
“I let my heart rule as I do in my own writing. When I get to the piano, I’ve already got the lyrics and see what it is that develops from my memory or experiences in life.
“I decide to write then the emotion kicks in and there it is, without being really overly conscious of it.”
She added: “While I’m doing it, I don’t think I’m even involved.”
Judith comes from a family of classical musicians and singers and is classically trained herself but has to rely a lot on her memory of thousands of songs because she is dyslexic and has trouble writing things down.
She records her work immediately she gets an idea, sometimes grabbing her mobile phone to do it.
Judith said: “I’m looking forward to coming to Sheffield, it’s one of my favourite spots. I do love coming back.”
That’s quite a compliment from the globe-trotting performer who divides her time off between the US and the UK.
Judith said: “I’ve been doing plenty in Europe and America, playing my latest album, redisCOVERed. It’s not good enough to do it in London, I’ve got to take it to the people.”