Judy White was born in 1947, the daughter of folk blues singer Josh White and no doubt picked up an invaluable musical education from him, as she appeared on stage with him as a backing vocalist from the early 60s on. By then she was living in New York where she met Bongi Makeba, daughter of South African expat vocalist Miriam. As Bongi & Judy they made a couple of 45s for Buddah and Epic the pick of which was the lively "Running Out", later covered by the wonderful Mabel John. Further solo New York recordings like "Building a World For Two" and "Girls Can't Do What The Guys Do" were in the big city cry soul vein. The latter track was a good showcase for her flexible and impassioned vocals.
But her final single for the label was radically different. Like so many of her contemporaries Judy went South for inspiration and came out with a cracker. I'll Cry was outstanding with its tasteful guitar, from cult hero Eddie Hinton, but Satisfaction Guaranteed was even better. White's gospel testifying over this wonderful 6/8 tempo ballad is equal to those searing cuts by artists like Laura Lee and Etta James similarly recording in Muscle Shoals. Especially thrilling is the way she works around rather than through the melody and the Quinvy studios can be very satisfied with the production. This is an amazing double sided 45 which, had it been on a more fashionable label would be a more recognised classic.
Judy switched to the Isley Brothers T-Neck concern in 1969 and had a couple of 45s issued. The first "Somebody Been Messin'" was rather routine funk, but the other side to this track, "Vacuum Cleaner", has found some favour on that scene. Save Me however is a much better vehicle for her talents. At first Judy sounds quite cool about her predicament, but listen more closely and you can hear a suppressed intensity, panic almost in the way she sings the verses. And when this becomes overt towards the end of the disc, the emotional heights she reaches are quite affecting. A stunning performance. Credit too to the Isleys for not drowning her out in wah-wah guitars, percussion and other irrelevancies. That must be them singing background as well - but their own cut to this released a year or so later can't get anywhere near this version.
Judy White has confirmed that her last stage appearance was in 1972 since when she has moved to Georgia and brought up her family of 4 children as Mrs Judy Goard, but thankfully she does still sing in her local church.
Strong torch for you / I am on the wagon ~ PHILIPS 40052 (1962)
Running out / Let's get together ~ BUDDAH 16 (1967) (as BONGI & JUDY)
What should a young girl do / You're no good for me ~ EPIC 10130 (1967)
Who am I / Building a world for two ~ BUDDAH 33 (1968)
Girls can't do what the guys do / Building a world for two ~ BUDDAH 62
I'll cry / Satisfaction guaranteed ~ BUDDAH 79
Somebody been messin' / Pt 2 ~ T-NECK 905 (1969)
Save me / Vacuum cleaner ~ T NECK 911 (1969)
Baby you got it / I've got to get myself together ~ T-NECK 920 (1970) (as RUDY & JUDY)
1. Some of the info on this page came from Dave Chichester's fine website here where you can also find an email from Judy herself!
2. Special thanks to Dave Chichester for added discographical info. He points out that the Rudy & Judy 45 has Rudolph Isley singing the duet. Dave also wonders if Judy & Janey "Gossip / The Reverend" (Buddah 87) could be Judy White as well. Can anybody help?
UPDATE ~ Marc Demuynck has kindy written about the Judy & Janey 45 to say that "I asked Judy White.She says it's not her.She does not know who they are. "Also,I've seen the record on a Japanese sales list with the notation 'SPOKEN' to it." I'm grateful to Marc for this info which clears up a puzzle.
Special thanks to Dave Chichester for the two lovely vintage pics of Judy.