Judy Bailey was born Julia Udella Ann Martin on January 6th, 1955 in Winchester, Kentucky, the 11th of 12 children born to Floyd and Nellie Martin. Raised in a low-income housing project known to the tenants as "Hungry Holler", Judy grew up listening to her mother play the guitar and sing those old-time songs and hymns, as well as many of her own original compositions. It was no surprise that Judy would, from an early age, dream of being a singing star. She would often entertain the other neighborhood children by performing songs on the front steps, using a spoon as a microphone. She would tell them that she was going to "sing on television someday". When she was about seven, she found an old broken guitar in a trash heap and, although it only had 5 strings, she managed to learn to play.
Judy was 16 when her father and mother packed up their few belongings and moved the family to Lacoochee, Florida - a very small town near Brooksville on the western side of the state. It was here, in 1971, that Judy got her first singing "gig", performing at the Lacootchie Fire Station. Unfortunately, before the first set was finished, the power went out and put an end to the evening. But the fire (no pun intended) was lit. By the mid-70s, Judy was fronting "Mason Dixon" (the house band at the huge "Joyland" night club in Tampa) where she started making contact with many of the "name" country stars of the day, such as Narvel Felts and Hank Williams, Jr..
In early 1978, Judy and her husband, made the trip over to Central Sound Studio in Auburndale in hopes of recording a couple of original songs that she had written, "I Never Stopped Lovin' You" and "Life Is What You Make It". During that time period it was still possible to make a 45 rpm single and, with a little barn-storming, get some radio play. In any event, it didn't take long for us to realize how talented she was. During 1977 and early 1978 Judy worked several special events and shows with the Carl and Jesse Chambers' Dizzy Rambler Band.
In 1979, David Bellamy produced a couple of demo tunes on Judy, using their band (us), but it was Darrell Glenn who sent some of Judy's recordings from Central Sound Studio to Nashville producer, Ray Baker, who was at the time was looking for a female duet to record with singer, Moe Bandy. He liked what he heard flew Judy to Nashville (her first airplane ride) to sing the duet on "Following The Feelin'", a Top 20 hit in 1980 for Bandy.
Baker and Glenn were then able to get Columbia Records to sign Judy to a recording contract of her own that would produce the singles "Slow Country Dancin'" and "Best Bedroom in Town". Late in 1980, Columbia Records dropped half of their "new artist" roster and Judy's contract was picked up by Warner Brothers Records. Still with producer Ray Baker, Warner released the singles "Tender Lovin' Lies" and "Finding You", but friction was beginning to build between Baker and the WB label.
Even so, in 1981, Judy was nominated as one of the Top 5 New Female Vocalists of the year, by California's Academy of Country Music. She performed on the nationally televised ACM awards show from Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California but in the end would lose to another nominee, Juice Newton.
In 1982, Judy was signed by the Welk Music Group in Nashville as a staff writer and became a frequent performer on Ralph Emery's nightly "Nashville Now" show on the then TNN television network. She was also making quite a few personal appearances, usually as the opening act for some of the 80's top performers. Some of the acts Judy remembers doing the opening slots for include: Don Williams, the Whites, Moe Bandy, Vern Gosdin, Del Reeves, Johnny Carver, Freddy Weller, Dicky Lee, Johnny Russell, David Frizell & Shelly West, and the Bellamy Brothers.
As a writer, Judy has written with some of the biggest names in the country music songwriting community including: Larry Cordle, Jim Rushing, Johnny Russell, Gary Lumpkin, Freddy Weller, Dickie Lee, Mark Colley, Chely Wright, and Lonnie Williams, just to name a few.
Judy Bailey always seemed to be right on the edge of stardom - always in the "right place" - just never at quite the "right time". She was one of the best traditional female country singers I have ever had the pleasure to work with. She has a powerful yet emotional voice that I always love singing harmony with. She is also capable of being a better than average songwriter. As of 2008, Judy lives in the Brandon area of Central Florida and still performs at any and every opportunity. I am proud to say she is my friend.
For bookings and/or information - contact: Judy Bailey at Gmail dot com
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