Judith Owen

Judith Owen's Biography

Since her late-'90s emergence on the world stage, fans, critics and Hollywood have been captivated by the truth-seeking lyricism and all-encompassing artistry of Judith Owen. With her newest album, Happy This Way (Courgette Records), on the heels of the acclaimed Here (2006), Owen is in the midst of a breakthrough period, earning a critical and popular embrace that situates her in an even more rarefied group of distinguished artists.

Following the release of Here, which earned her an appearance on NBC's Today Show among many other accolades, Owen performed the material live in major cities across the United States, Canada and the UK. Reviewing her at NYC's great launching pad for singer-songwriters, The Living Room, The New York Times raved that she "has the kind of wailing folk-jazz voice that slices away surfaces to touch vulnerable emotional nerve endings and leave you quivering."

Happy This Way, a layered homage to Owen's native Britain, is co-produced by Owen and her longtime cohort John Fischbach, engineer of Stevie Wonder's classic 1976 album Songs In The Key Of Life. The new recording ranges in mood and style from the fun British Invasion pop-rock of "Painting by Numbers" to the wistful chamber-pop of the strings-laden "Conway Bay."

For Owen, Happy This Way culminates a longstanding preoccupation with the United Kingdom—especially the childhood and family memories it represents for her, and the ways it has contributed to her current worldview, which she recently described as "a kind of newly-discovered joy that I have now—a really profound sense of the present, of grasping what is wonderful, in spite of knowing that there will also be sadness and pain."

Over the course of Happy This Way, Owen calls upon her pop, rock, jazz, classical, R&B and theatrical influences—which culminate in a singular artistry, equal parts musicality and wit—to tell how she learned to savor the present by confronting her stormy past. The Los Angeles Times, profiling Owen in a Sunday Calendar feature, described Happy This Way as "whip smart, soulfully cool and deeply introspective." USA Today has called the album "a gem" and The Washington Post referred to it as "the latest reminder of Owen's rare talent for effortlessly crossing genres" adding, "her alluring vocals are a gift that keeps on giving." NPR featured Owen and the album in a special "Live from Studio 4A" performance broadcast on Weekend Edition Sunday.

Preceded wherever she goes by her sterling reputation—Variety effusively describes her as "a charmer and a seducer, a rocker, and a jazz chanteuse"—Owen has recorded and toured with some of the world's finest contemporary musicians, including k.d. lang, bluesman Keb 'Mo, saxophonist Tom Scott, Julia Fordham, jazz vocalist Ian Shaw, Quantic and others. Cassandra Wilson calls her "one of the most passionate, mesmerizing, thoroughly creative vocal artists on the scene today." Jamie Cullum has deemed Owen a "female Randy Newman."

British folk-rock legend Richard Thompson was so impressed by the songbird that he invited her to perform on his tour, "1000 Years of Popular Music." Owen's considerable contributions to this historic jaunt are documented on a collectable 2006 CD and DVD of the event, where she and Thompson perform music dating back to the 13th century, up to contemporary tracks by Julie London, the Beatles and even Britney Spears. Owen has become Thompson's female foil of choice: Aside from him performing on Happy This Way, Owen is featured on his most recent album, Sweet Warrior, and will join him in more U.S. performances of "1000 Years" this winter when the show returns to the road.

Owen's 1996 debut album Emotions On A Postcard spawned "Hand On My Heart," the beguiling single featured in the 1997 Jack Nicholson/Helen Hunt film "As Good As It Gets." Her sophomore recording Limited Edition resulted in several tracks being showcased in television shows on CBS, NBC, HBO and the WB. An acclaimed third album—featuring a dozen tracks so penetrating Owen titled the disc 12 Arrows—earned the singer, songwriter and pianist an opening slot on tour with k.d. lang. 2005's Lost & Found release and tour culminated in a sold-out performance at LA's prestigious Walt Disney Concert Hall. Owen's 2005 EP Christmas in July begat a fearless interpretation of Spinal Tap's "Christmas With The Devil." Jamie Lee Curtis, another ardent Owen champion, made her debut as a music video director with one for the "Here" title track.

In 2005, Owen formed the Warner Music/ADA-distributed Courgette Records with her husband/collaborator Harry Shearer and her manager, Bambi Moé. The partnership insures that Owen will continue to release recordings on her own artistic terms. The influential arts and letters blogger The Head Butler recently wrote, "jazz now favors female singers, and…each year, we get a new one to marvel at. We never seem to get Judith Owen. Our loss…You don't have to sit in a club nursing Jack Daniels to appreciate [her] deep sensitivity, good taste and exceptional voice of Judith Owen." Owen's next album, Mopping Up Karma, will be released June 3, 2008.

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