Whether she is rocking the stage at some of San Francisco’s longest-running and most popular events or entertaining crowds at the legendary Great American Music Hall, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Groovy Judy has become one of the Bay Area’s most recognizable musicians. Inspired by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, Groovy Judy’s classic riffs and warm personality have endeared her to fans everywhere.
Judy has released three full-length albums over her twenty-year music career. Her self-titled debut album dropped in 2000 but was re-released in 2004 with added content and a remastering of the original music.
Judy’s second album, Life, released in 2006, was recorded at some of California’s most popular studios, including Prairie Sun Studio and Studio D. Prairie Sun Studio has won multiple Grammy Awards and has collaborated with major artists such as Carlos Santana, Van Morrison and Journey. Also, a Grammy Award winner, Studio D has a history of working with well-known acts like Aretha Franklin, Earth Wind & Fire and Huey Lewis & The News. Life was produced by long-time singer, songwriter and composer Roberta Donnay.
“Working with Roberta was great,” says Judy. “She has years of experience as an artist and knows a lot of people. She brought in an amazing bass player, Myron Dove (Santana, Robben Ford, Stevie Wonder.) The whole process was a real eye-opener for me as far as how to do pre-production, scheduling time, budgeting and hiring great people. She also brought in two amazing backup singers to make the vocals soar.”
The third album, entitled Love, was recorded at GetReel Studios in San Francisco and was self-produced by Judy. The three albums, as well as her 2011 EP A Little Love, are currently available for streaming and purchase on all major digital distribution platforms, including Spotify, iTunes and Amazon. Physical copies can be purchased at Judy’s live shows as well as her official website, GroovyJudy.com.
She has logged performances at the legendary Great American Music Hall, which has hosted entertainers ranging from Grateful Dead founder Jerry Garcia to comedian Robin Williams. She has also graced stages at the Mountain View Art and Wine Festival and the Lafayette Art and Wine Festival.
In addition to the traditional venue and festival circuit, Groovy Judy has become a popular and consistent musical presence at the annual Bay to Breakers footrace. The event, founded to lift San Francisco’s spirits in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake, is currently the second-largest running event in the world in terms of participation with nearly 50,000 people taking part annually.
“Bay to Breakers is my favorite event and gig every year,” Judy says smiling. “The energy is amazing, and everyone is in a great mood. I’ve seen everything imaginable: naked people, salmon spawning, a group of singing Elvises, kegs of beer in shopping carts.”
There is a lot of inspiration to be found in Judy’s journey as an artist. Like many others, Judy had ambitions of becoming a full-time musician while stuck in a corporate job at which she was, as she describes it, miserable. That all came to a head in 2004 when she was laid off from her job. Finding herself at a crossroad, Judy decided to follow her dreams instead of sending out resumes.
“That moment when I decided just to make music my career was exhilarating and terrifying,” she remembers. “I felt like I had had enough of ‘working for the man.’ I didn’t know how I was going to make a living with music, but I trusted it would all fall into place, and I followed every opportunity that came along, whether it was booking, marketing, performing or teaching. Here I am fifteen years later, still doing what I love.”
In addition to rocking stages throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Judy is also a cancer survivor. In 2017, she was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer, a rare form of the disease seen in one case per 100,000 cases in the U.S. each year. She underwent surgery to have the tumor removed and made an immediate return to the stage, refusing to cancel her shows despite temporary paralysis on the left side of her face.
“I knew I had a show one week after my surgery, but I didn’t want to break my commitment to the venue or jeopardize future bookings, so I did it,” says Judy. “I also didn’t want to dwell on my situation. Performing helped take my mind off the surgery and what I was dealing with. The guys in my band were very supportive and helpful.”
Through philanthropy, Judy has discovered several ways to use her music to help others. She has donated performances to a number of charities, including the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, American Leukemia Society and Food Not Bombs. Judy recently organized a drive from which tips from her shows and donations from fans were given to assist with fire relief in California.
Away from music, Judy enjoys spending time with her husband and family and loves playing golf. She likes watching movies, citing the Pink Panther flicks as some of her favorites. Judy also makes it a point to work out several times per week and loves being outdoors.