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Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Monday, 17 August 2009 14:53 UK
Ex-Fairport star returns to music
By Jason Martin
BBC Oxford

Judy in the 60s
Judy toured with the band before they settled on singer Sandy Denny

Considering their legendary status as folk icons, Fairport Convention's origins were remarkably humble.

"Anytime they needed a folky, acoustic thing they'd drag me in. None of them wanted to sing" Judy Dyble explains.

Eventually, despite her intentions of becoming a librarian, the band asked Judy to go professional and "travel around the country in a bus with a hole in the floor."

As Judy admits "You can't refuse those kinds of offers!

"I'd be picked up in a van at 4pm, driven somewhere, perform, get to see some wonderful bands and then be returned home at 4am the next morning."

Despite the initial excitement of touring with a band, it came to an abrupt end when the band opted to replace Judy with Sandy Denny.

Not wanting to give up on music, Judy linked up with Ian McDonald, Peter Giles and Robert Fripp who would later form the progressive rock band King Crimson. "We recorded a few things but it didn't work out" recalls Judy and she left the band after her romantic split with McDonald.

And so began an unplanned period of almost 35 years away from the music industry. "Music quickly leaves you behind. I met my husband, moved to Northampton and went back to being a librarian before moving back to Oxford after three years. I couldn't really fit music in with two children."

During this lengthy hiatus Judy attended the annual Cropredy Festival hosted by Fairport Convention since 1979 and performed on stage with the band in the anniversary years of 1997 and 2002. She describes the experience as "absolutely terrifying."

Judy Dyble
Judy gave up music for 35 years whilst devoting herself to family life

A random phone call in 2002 rekindled a passion for recording when an unknown musician asked Judy's permission to sample her voice for a dance track he was producing.

"I thought, that's different, I'll give it a go" she recalls. Judy invited him to record her singing in her own living room using a laptop.

"It ignited a spark in me because I was using songs that I'd written 30 years ago which were lying around in a drawer. I hadn't known what to do with them.

"I decided to get in touch with some people on the internet and said 'I've got these songs and I don't know what to do with them. Can you help?'"

Judy's first tentative steps back into the world of recording and releasing music began with three cult albums produced by Marc Swordfish between 2004 and 2006.

This paved the way for the creation of Judy's new album Talking With Strangers which broke new ground in terms of its production - musicians from around the world worked on the album in their studios and then Judy would sing her vocals on top.

"It was odd because in the studio you'd play off the other musicians but this was very much each musician doing their own thing but for a common cause."

This organic process allowed each musician the freedom to be creative in their own environment and at their own pace and the end result is a fascinating blend of folk, rock, jazz and contemporary pop music which has garnered significant critical acclaim and which Judy feels is the best album she's ever produced.

Judy was in attendance as usual at Cropredy this year, this time signing copies of Talking With Strangers. But there's no doubt that she'll be convinced to take to the famous stage again one day.

A diary from Fairport's Cropredy
24 Aug 09 |  Arts & Culture
Review of Cropredy music festival
18 Aug 09 |  BBC Introducing



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