Judy Carmichael Biography

Judith Lea Hohenstein, 27 November 1957, Lynwood, California, USA. Carmichael grew up in a musical household and was taught piano by her mother from the age of four. A gifted pianist, she played piano for Jo Stafford when still only 10 years old. Her career began in earnest in the early 70s and flourished after she based herself in New York from the early 80s. Technically assured, Carmichael is unusual among her contemporaries in her wholehearted embrace of classic jazz piano and in particular stride piano, on which she has written two books. Her ability in this genre drew an accolade from Count Basie who nicknamed her ‘Stride’. Among other fans early in her career were Benny Carter and Sarah Vaughan and it was with the latter’s encouragement that Carmichael made Two Handed Stride, her first ensemble album on which she was teamed with a group that included several ‘Basie-ites’: Marshal Royal, Freddie Green, Red Callender and Harold Jones. This album was nominated for a Grammy. She has been the recipient of several grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, one of which was to allow her to present early jazz musicians on film, another to discuss with college students nationwide the history and development of jazz piano. In addition, she has travelled extensively both nationally and internationally as a concert artist, touring on behalf of the United States Information Agency throughout Portugal, Brazil, India and to Singapore.

In 1992, Carmichael became the first jazz musician to be sponsored by the US Government for a tour of China. Frequent musical companions of Carmichael have been Michael Hashim and Chris Flory, both of them members of an early trio and, later, her quintet. In 2000, she became host of Jazz Inspired, a National Public Radio show. Among her many guests on the show have been Billy Joel, Lyle ‘Skitch’ Henderson, record producer Jerry Wexler, Steve Allen, and several people from outside music who have found in jazz inspiration that has contributed towards their work in other fields. In addition to her books, Carmichael has also contributed numerous articles on jazz to magazines. Through her writing, broadcasting, lecture tours and above all through her playing, Carmichael has made not only a substantial contribution to the world of jazz piano but has also ensured that its great tradition lives on and that its long ago giants are not forgotten.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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