Efter ett misslyckat försök att etablera sig som popstjärna hemma i Holland, drog Judy Blank till USA för att istället ägna sig åt den musik hon älskade. Hon turnerade med Susto, sjöng duett med Dylan Earl, spelade på Americana Fest i Nashville och formade sakta men säkert sin egen holländska version av americana. En stabil rotrock i grunden med inslag av pop och indie som så småningom gjorde henne till ett stort namn på hemmaplan. Möt Judy Blank när hon för första gången gästar Sverige!
Judy Blank is a singer-songwriter from Utrecht, the Netherlands. She started her career as a participant on the second season of the successful Dutch TV show ‘De Beste Singer-Songwriter van Nederland' when she was 18 years old. It was hosted by famous Dutch radio host Giel Beelen, who used his TV show to publicly look for undiscovered songwriting talent in the Netherlands. She quickly won the hearts of the judges with her soulful piano pop songs, and made it to the live finals, which attracted half a million viewers, with her song ‘‘Foolish Child''. During the show, she played a short set at the biggest and most famous jazz festival in the world: North Sea Jazz festival in Rotterdam, where her performance was attended by American blues artist Seasick Steve. He asked her to sing a duet with him at TivoliVredenburg later that year. She didn't win the contest, but gained a solid new fanbase and embarked on a tour of The Netherlands with the other contestants of the show that fall, playing the most famous venues in of the country, like the legendary former church Paradiso in Amsterdam (capacity: 1500), where artists such as The Rolling Stones, Nirvana and David Bowie have played. That same year, she was asked to play her first festival shows, like Festyland and the indoor Songbird festival in Rotterdam. The year ended with a live broadcast Christmas TV special hosted by the show she was on, where she performed her first ever Christmas song on live TV.
In 2014, at age 19, she recorded her debut album, ‘'When The Storm Hits'', with Dutch artist and producer Colin Benders, also known as Kyteman, at his Kytopia studios in Utrecht, where artists such as Snarky Puppy recorded that same year. She was discovered by Mojo/Live Nation, who started functioning as her promoter and booking agency. The album came out on Caroline Records, and was celebrated with her own headline show at North Sea Jazz festival. After that, she traveled solo to the U.S. for the first time and visited the city of New Orleans, where she met people from southwest Louisiana that she became friends with. Later that Summer, she also performed a headline show at Lowlands festival, the leading pop festival of the country. In the fall of that year, she played her first full band headline tour in The Netherlands in venues with a capacity of approximately 200, and performed at Songbird festival with L.A. based pop artist Matt Simons.
She decided to visit her new friends in rural Louisiana in the beginning of 2015. It turned out to be a lot different from the jazz-driven city of New Orleans, and she was introduced to traditional folk music by the children of friends-of-friends at parties she was taken to. She noticed the songs that were being sung by the kids, and the songs played on the radio, were a lot less complicated, and found them to be incredibly inspiring. The words being sung seemed to be way more important than how complicated the music was here. She discovered a Nashville-based band, The Wood Brothers, at a concert in Lafayette her friends took her to, that changed the way she looked at music forever. The people she stayed with didn't have a piano at the house, so she borrowed a guitar and taught herself how to play a few chords. That new skill sparked new inspiration, ingrained a deep love for songwriting in its purest form alongside a deep respect for the American folk tradition. She started playing the guitar every day, quickly improved, and bravely tried out a song or two at local open mic nights towards the end of the trip. She came back to the Netherlands, and that Summer, performed at Pinkpop Festival, the biggest and oldest pop festival in The Netherlands, where she performed solo, accompanying herself with nothing more than an acoustic guitar. The spent the rest of the year working on her songwriting craft, playing small, intimate shows, relearning how to connect with her audience in this new form, and opening for US R&B/soul artist Macy Gray at TivoliVredenburg.
In May of 2016, a dream came true; she opened for her favorite band, The Wood Brothers, at a venue called LantarenVenster in Rotterdam. The lead singer of the band, Oliver Wood, watched her set, loved it, gave her his contact info and told her that if she was ever in Nashville, she should give him a call. That Summer, she went and visited her friends in Louisiana again. Knowing of her passion for songwriting and folk music, they decided to surprise her with a very special gift: a family vacation to Nashville, Tennessee. She immediately felt like she was right where she belonged; fell for the vibrant music scene, and in particular: the songwriting scene that was unlike anything she'd ever experienced before. She hit up Oliver and went for a coffee with him, after which he showed her the studio where his band had recorded most of their music: Zac Brown's Southern Ground Studios. Back in the Netherlands, she continued writing songs, making demos and played a big traveling Dutch festival for emerging artists called Popronde, touring 14 cities in the Netherlands with her new, guitar-driven songs.
She tried recording the songs in The Netherlands, but she didn't seem to be able to get her American inspired folk songs to sound the way they should. In 2017, Judy reached out to Oliver Wood's wife, Rebecca, who worked at Zac Brown's Southern Ground Studios, asking if she could record a few songs in Nashville that Summer. They were simple recordings of her playing mostly solo, accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Ethan Ballinger, who plays for artists such as Miranda Lambert, LeeAnn Womack and Aubrie Sellers, and session guitarist Smith Curry, who played on songs for Taylor Swift, Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. The songs were brought to the attention of V2/Munich Records in The Netherlands, who signed her and offered her a record deal.
The first single of the album, ‘Mary Jane' came out in March of 2018. It immediately became a hit on Dutch national radio, with airplay on Radio Veronica, Radio 1, Radio 5 and Radio 2, the biggest radio station in The Netherlands. Not long after its release, it was awarded Radio 2 TopSong status, meaning that the radio show curators and DJ's found it to have hit potential, putting it on hourly rotation for a full week. The song didn't go unnoticed stateside, either: It got picked up by Nashville's leading radio station, Lightning 100, and became DJ pick of the week. She played several Dutch radio and TV shows, went on a support tour with Scottish artist Daniel Docherty, opened for Lisa Stansfield, and played Amsterdam's biggest venue, the 17.000 capacity Ziggo Dome, opening for Beth Hart. Later that Summer, she played at the renowned art festival Into The Great Wide Open. Her album, ‘Morning Sun', was released in the early fall of that year. Immediately after, she went on a headline tour supporting the album, as well as a support tour of Dutch artists Kovacs and Americana pioneer JW Roy. She also got asked to compose the soundtrack for Dutch children's feature film ‘Kapsalon Romy', and her song ‘Tangled Up In You' was used in another feature film, ‘Huisvrouwen Bestaan Niet 2'.
A month after its release, she was tagged in a post by no one less than Sir Elton John, declaring he'd added her song ‘1995' to his personal favorite songs playlist. It was the biggest compliment she was ever given.
Continuing the success of ‘Morning Sun', she played ESNS, the biggest music showcase festival in Europe, in January of 2019. Het Parool, a Dutch daily newspaper, attended the show and printed an article the next day, calling the subdued performance ‘the most moving of all performances', and her song ‘1995'' ‘the most beautiful song of the evening'. She was asked for another performance at Amsterdam's Ziggo Dome; this time with famous Dutch country artist Ilse DeLange, where she sang ‘Mary Jane' in front of 18.000 people.
Not long after, she was accepted to play at SXSW festival in Austin, TX, the world's biggest annual showcase event for global creative professionals. After her showcase performance, she went back to Nashville to record her next EP, ‘Morning After' with Ethan Ballinger and Brandon Bell, a Grammy winning recording engineer known for his work with Brandi Carlisle, Foo Fighters, Alan Jackson and Miranda Lambert. She released its first single ‘Goldmine', in May of that year, and went on a headline Spring tour in the Netherlands. After the tour, she wrote a song for Dutch singer ‘Do', which became the soundtrack for the movie ‘Angry Birds 2'. After that, she was asked to join South Carolina indie rock band SUSTO to join their European tour as a support act. Together, they played multiple shows in The Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Scotland and the UK, booked by Sedate Bookings, a Utrecht-based booking agency. After that, a busy Dutch festival season followed, including shows at Concert at Sea, Young Art Festival and Zomerparkfeesten.
In September of that year, Judy was accepted as the first Dutch artist to ever play AmericanaFest in Nashville, the biggest showcase festival in her genre. After announcing this, she was invited to join a songwriting retreat by The House Of Songs, a non-profit organization providing songwriters and musicians the ability to create, collaborate and showcase in an innovative and supportive environment, in the week before AmericanaFest. She was brought forward by Stevie Smith, head of the Americana Music Association UK, who's been a fan since they met at Ramblin' Roots festival in the UK earlier that year and a known partner of The House Of Songs. They both spent a week at their location in Bentonville, Arkansas, where she met Austin country artist Jonathan Terrell and local artist Dylan Earl. Judy and Dylan wrote a song called ‘Never Said A Word'. They became good friends, and made plans to record this song at some point in the future.
During AmericanaFest, Judy kept incredibly busy, showcasing her newly written The House Of Songs creations, playing live radio shows like Lightning 100 and WXNA, and was invited to sing ‘1995' on television on NBC's Good Morning Nashville. Blank quickly garnered international acclaim for her emotive songwriting, including coverage by PopMatters, DittyTV and Americana Highways. During the week, she was also invited to be part of a special tribute to ‘69 night with other Americana artists, such as Jim Lauderdale, Nicole Atkins and Nikki Lane as a part of the official showcase program.
After her incredible time in Nashville, she returned to the Netherlands with a full heart, and got invited to record her song ‘1995' with the world renowned, Grammy winning Metropole Orkest in the Netherlands. After the recordings, she released her new EP ‘Morning After' in a sold out venue called EKKO in her hometown, Utrecht. After that, she embarked on a club tour called ‘Nashville Now', in an attempt to share a little bit of the magic Nashville brought her with people in the Netherlands. She wrapped up the year playing a huge show opening for BLØF, one of the biggest bands in the Netherlands for the past 25 years, in AHOY Rotterdam, a 16.500 capacity venue.
Things were looking bright. In the beginning of 2020, Judy played another successful ESNS showcase, and won the prestigious annual Pop Stipendium award by a cultural organization called ‘Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds', which she won over two other nominees, Dutch/Turkish band Altin Gün and Dutch producer duo Weval. After that, she traveled to London to play her first showcase festival in the UK: AmericanaFest UK. The showcase was another success, and Judy got booked to play her first, and also the biggest country and americana festival in the UK that Summer: Black Deer Fest, alongside Wilco, The Waterboys, The Secret Sisters and Courtney Marie Andrews. Her House Of Songs friend Dylan Earl was also playing AmericanaFest UK that year, and after their London adventures, they decided to both travel to the Netherlands to record their song and another song they'd written with Pablo van de Poel (DeWolff), with members of North Carolina folk band Chatham County Line, who happened to be in town. After that, Pablo also helped her record acoustic versions of the songs from her two latest albums, later bundled and released as an EP called ‘Morning Tapes'. In March of 2020, she embarked on a European tour with Nashville based country soul artist Sam Lewis. But a couple of days into their tour, the world shut down completely, cutting off both of their plans. And hopes. And dreams. Her planned ‘Morning Tapes Tour' got canceled, Black Deer Festival got moved to 2021. Despite doing everything within her power to remain relevant, including livestreams for the U.S. Americana Music Association, Radio 2 and an empty Paradiso Amsterdam, the pandemic caused the rest of that year to be very difficult and confusing for artists. Constantly changing safety rules caused the shows that were booked to be moved and canceled constantly. It was a disheartening time on many levels, and apart from being able to play, she missed her Nashville friends and the freedom to spend time with them.
New year, same problems - The first half of 2021 turned out to be even more confusing than most of 2020. She showcased an online showcase for Americanafest UK, but felt discouraged when all of her planned shows, including a theater tour in the Netherlands, interpreting the songs of her American folk hero, Bob Dylan, kept getting moved and canceled canceled. She decided to use the freed up time to build a studio in a forest twenty minutes from her house, where she could work on her own songs, as well as writing songs of other artists. That Summer, the went through a loop to make the almost impossible happen: To play at Black Deer Festival, which at the time required a 9 day quarantine in the UK, and a total of 4 Covid tests, to support ‘Never Said A Word', her single and Record Store Day release with Dylan Earl. They both thought it would be worth going, despite the constantly changing rules. After all; the festival was still supposed to happen, this time with Robert Plant, Imelda May and the Dead South added to the already impressive lineup. But on the day they both arrived in the UK for their 9 day quarantine, the two received the sad news that the festival was moved again. However, it didn't break their spirit. The two ended up putting together a last minute, socially distanced tour with the help of Sedate Bookings and local Americana fans in the UK. The shows included St. Pancras Old Church, The Prince Albert in Brighton and The Sound Lounge in London. The Dutch cultural sector opened a little further in September of 2021, when she was asked to join an Americana tour of six shows with the famous Metropole Orchestra. The shows were a grand success, and Judy got to feel a little more alive playing the songs of her American heroes Joni Mitchell, Gram Parsons as well as her own songs. After the tour, she heard that her duet with Dylan Earl, ‘Never Said A Word', was nominated for ‘International Song Of The Year' at the UK Americana awards. Later that Fall, she spent more time writing for other artists in her studio, set up by publishers Warner and Sony Music, and wrote a Christmas song for multi platinum pop artist Duncan Laurence. ‘Wishes Come True' came out in the U.S. on Capitol Records / Universal, and was awarded TopSong status on Radio 2 as well. The world had opened up a little more at this point, but closed down again quickly after, forcing her to move her sold out ‘Morning Tapes' club tour for the fourth time. She wrote and recorded her song ‘Karaoke' (‘'Wouldn't it be nice to do some living before I die''), a slightly sarcastic song about the situation we were all stuck in, and released it without expectations before leaving for Mexico in an attempt to find back a little bit of the joy she felt she'd been missing for way too long; exactly what the song was about. While in Mexico, ‘Karaoke' blew up on Spotify, Radio 2, Radio Veronica, KINK radio and Radio 1. It resonated with a lot of people at the time, proving again that Judy writes poignant, relevant songs, while preserving a certain timelessness that's authentic to her. The song currently has over two million streams on Spotify.
In January of 2022, while still in Mexico, she was asked to play a festival called ‘Tropic Of Cancer' in Baja California Sur, Mexico, hosted by Nashville folk rock band The Cordovas, who are represented by the same booking agency in Europe. Also represented by the same company were her friends from SUSTO, also playing the festival, who asked her to perform in their band during the festival, playing keys and singing harmonies. After the festival, they asked her to come to Mexico City to play another headline show with them. She made a lot of interesting new friends on that trip, including Jo Ana Edmison, a visual creative professional from Los Angeles, California who took new analog press photos and shared a similar love for vintage. In March, ‘Til I Make It To You', a song Judy co-wrote with Nashville singer-songwriter and Vanderbilt heart transplant cardiologist Suzie Brown, was featured in People Magazine.
After her Mexico trip, she went back to the Netherlands to record a hopeful, introspective collection of songs she wrote about the darker side of the pandemic: the mental health problems it caused for so many young people. She went back to Mexico to record a colorful accompanying music video for her song ‘The Magic', directed by filmmaker Edgar Berry. Her EP ‘Saddies' came out on V2 Records in May that year, followed by a club tour in The Netherlands, sold out 450 capacity venues and a lot of airplay for her songs ‘Confetti' and ‘Lost At Last' on Radio 2 and Radio 1. After the tour, she decided to visit a new side of the U.S. she's never visited before: California. She spent time with her friend Jo Anna, and got inspired by the views and the rich cultural and musical history of the West Coast. That same Summer, she went on a solo tour supporting her EP Saddies in the UK. After that, she finished recording her new full length album, ‘Big Mood' in The Netherlands with Dutch indie producer Roy van Rosendaal, who helped her find a new sound, inspired by a natural shift in musical taste and personal and artistic growth. In September, she was busy writing songs for Sony Music artist Dion Cooper, the Dutch Eurovision Contest representative for 2023, and was invited to a Christmas themed songwriting camp set up by Warner Music, where she wrote multiple songs for other Dutch artists, as well as writing one for herself to release. The Beach Boys-inspired seasonal pop song ‘California Christmas' was recorded in Nashville a month later, produced by Patrick Damphier at Pentavarit Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. It was released on Warner Music, and got picked up by American news outlet HuffPost and included in their ‘Best Christmas Songs of 2022' article. The buzz of the article created a ripple effect; the song got added to a huge Spotify playlist called ‘The 50 Best Christmas Songs Of All Time', it reached over a million streams in one month, and also was awarded with TopSong status by Radio 2, thus put on heavy rotation. Apart from working on her own music, she also traveled to Stockholm and wrote four new songs, two of which were Christmas songs, with Duncan Laurence. She also released a lo-fi version of the famous Elvis classic ‘Blue Christmas', and released another original Christmas song with Dutch cult band Clean Pete.
This January, Judy played the Tropic of Cancer festival in Mexico again. She played another show with SUSTO, who asked her to join their shows this Summer.
In February, she had many writing sessions with big Dutch pop artists such as Paskal Jakobsen from BLØF, Sterre Koning, 2023 Eurovision contestant Dion Cooper and more with Duncan Laurence. In the meantime, her new album, ‘Big Mood' was being mixed and mastered by Patrick Damphier. Damphier was so pleased with her work ethic and vocal abilities that he asked her to work for him starting this year, doing session vocal work at Pentavarit studios in Nashville, Tennessee.
Judy is currently working in Mexico, creating another music video and visuals for the first single of the album, and will be back in the Netherlands next month for the official release of her documentary: I Do Matter, directed by Dutch filmmaker Jaimey Groot, on April 29th at Filmhuis Cavia in Amsterdam. She'll also be making another video in the Netherlands to accompany the second single of the album.
She was also asked to play at No Depression Magazine's FreshGrass Folk Festival as a part of the House of Songs, as well as playing more shows for them in the next three years. This May and June, she's also been asked to join three headline shows by California based band Próxima Parada. Her new album, combined with the countless opportunities to play shows supporting it, would provide her with a unique opportunity to work as a performing artist and continue her career in the place that continues to inspire her and her music: The United States.