The carnival is far from over for legendary Australian folk and gospel singer Judith Durham.
While more than half a century has passed since the golden-voiced performer first topped global charts as the lead singer of Australia’s original super-group The Seekers, Durham is still making beautiful music. And she’s relishing it.
Now 73, Durham has just released her latest solo album and live DVD, Judith Durham – An ‘A Cappella’ Experience. Ideally suited to this festive time of the year, the CD includes Durham's unadorned and moving rendition of 24 spiritual songs, many of which she has co-written.
The bonus DVD captures Durham's live-on-stage recital ‘Up Close & Personal’ at the Melbourne Recital Centre, and includes many of the songs recorded in the studio along with others presented as poems – some of which are philosophical or even humorous.
Formed in 1962, The Seekers became Australia's first global supergroup (Image: Facebook / The Seekers)
Born in Melbourne, Durham has always been a deeply spiritual person. She has been writing poems since the age of nine.
“When I was young, I was very much thinking of God and brought up in Sunday school and was always wanting to do the right thing,” she reveals. “I was very sincere when I said my prayers at night. Then I became interested in esoteric things and I started to believe in reincarnation – not just a Christian concept only, but a much broader understanding of spirituality in general.”
“I don’t know what I would have done without that deeper understanding – especially in terms of being able to accept whatever has come my way,” she reflects.
Certainly, Durham is no stranger to the challenges of life. In 1990, she survived a tragic car accident in which the person in the other vehicle was killed while she suffered a fractured wrist and leg.
Four years later, the singer was by the side of her adored husband, acclaimed British pianist Ron Edgeworth, when he succumbed to motor neurone disease. Durham believes their marriage was “one out of the box”.
The Seekers' smash hit Georgy Girl
“He was a very, very special man,” she says. “I just can’t imagine what life would have been without him. He made me a much more complete person.”
Then, in May 2013, Durham found herself facing an extraordinary new challenge. She had to learn to read and write again after suffering a near-fatal brain haemorrhage while in the midst of celebrations for The Seekers 50th anniversary.
Through it all, Durham's zest for life, and of course for music, has never waned. Her spirituality, she firmly believes, has kept her positive and brought immense comfort.
Despite the challenges, Judith still loves producing music
“I don’t know how I would have come through everything that life had to offer me – good and bad – without it,” she says. “To have come through on an even keel and to be able to have that acceptance is really just the best gift to have had. Of course, my husband was very much part of me being much more accepting. I first met him in 1968 and he taught me a huge amount – and I’m just so, so grateful for that.”
Could we perhaps see another Seekers reunion in the coming years?
“We’ve all said that we really don’t believe so,” Durham replies. “Our golden jubilee was the icing on the cake – and then the fact that we were all able to attend the opening nights in Melbourne and in Sydney of the Georgy Girl musical (inspired by the story of The Seekers). But if we’re all alive and kicking in 10 years time, we may have a diamond jubilee. We really are lifelong friends and have an unbreakable bond.”
As she looks to the future, a happily single Durham has no plans to slow down any time soon.
In 1995, Judith received the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to music
“Because my life is so rich, I don’t feel that I’m missing anything,” she says. “I just count my blessings every single day.”
What was your favourite song from The Seekers? Let us know in the comments below.
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The giveaway to win a copy of her album has ended.