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!
She has a well-earned reputation as a multi-level "Musical Activist," having empowered thousands over her performing and teaching career to discover their own voices and play their own music. She is the founding director of Music Empowerment Camps (since 1986), Women Making Music Retreats (since 1991), and five area women's choruses in California and Montana (since 1996). She directs the annual SummerSing Creative Arts Camp for Women, which is currently held in June at Boulder Hot Springs in Montana.
Since beginning her career as a songwriter and recording artist in 1980, Judy has written at least 300 songs and recorded 20 albums on her own label, Honey Pie Music. In 2013 Honey Pie released Judy's guitar solo CD Goin' Over Home, in 2015, Nobody Else's Dream, and, most recently in 2018, the MalvinaSpirit CD, the result of an ongoing writing and performing collaboration with Nancy Schimmel, Malvina Reynolds' daughter.
Judy holds a bachelor's degree in Art and Asian Studies from St Olaf College, and an elementary education degree from Oregon State University. She is certified in the Songworks music education approach and is past president of SongWorks Music Educators Association. When not on tour, she teaches guitar, voice, and ukulele at her music studio in Helena, Montana. Her highly successful Judy Fjell's Beginner Ukulele Book 1, with it's trademarked colored sticker method, makes it possible for anyone to learn to play. She is currently writing additional "Good Dog" ukulele books on note reading, TAB reading, music theory, picking, and strumming styles. She loves to teach ukulele and guitar improvisation in her lesson series entitled "Never Too Young to Play the Blues."
Judy leads music and worship services for Unitarian Universalist fellowships and churches, singing from her Open Your Heart Songbook: Songs of Spirit, Joy, and Reverence for Religious Liberals and Spiritual Seekers. In 2018 she founded the intergenerational Open Your Heart UUnity Band in Helena. Judy and the OYHUUBand often lead singing for Sunday worship at the Big Sky UU Fellowship.
Touring gives Judy many opportunities to reconnect with many friends with whom she has shared music, conversation and adventures over the years. The long quiet hours in the car also spawn many of Judy's richest songs. For more information on her tour and workshop schedule check the website Events Calendar.