Judith Mavis Durham is an Australian singer and musician, best known as the lead vocalist for the Australian popular folk music group, The Seekers. The group subsequently became the first Australian pop music group to achieve major chart and sales success in the United Kingdom and the United States and has sold over 50 million records.
Durham was born Judith Mavis Cock on July 3, 1943 in Essendon, Australia to William Alexander Cock DFC, a navigator and World War II pathfinder, and his wife, Hazel Durham. She attended the Fahan School before moving back to Melbourne in 1956 where she was educated at Ruyton Girls' School before enrolling at RMIT University. She originally studied to be a pianist at the University of Melbourne Conservatorium, often with professional engagements playing piano and having classical vocal training. She performed blues, gospel and jazz pieces; her singing career started after she sang with Nicholas Ribush, leader of the Melbourne University Jazz Band, at the Memphis Jazz Club in Malvern. She also began performing at the same club with Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers, using her mother's maiden name. In 1963, she recorded her first EP, "Judy Durham with Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers," for W&G Records.
While working as a secretary at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency, Durham met account executive Athol Guy, who was in a folk group called The Seekers who sang on Monday nights at the Treble Clef in Melbourne. Invited to sing with the group, she sung vocals in their album, "Introducing the Seekers," in 1963 as well as two other songs with the Jazz Preachers. She stayed with the Seekers until 1968, eventually returning to Australia and starting her solo career on the Nine Network. She married her musical director, British pianist Ron Edgeworth, on November 21, 1968 in Melbourne. They lived in England and Switzerland until the mid-80s when they bought property in Nambour, Queensland. During her career, she released the albums, "For Christmas With Love," "Gift of Song" and "Climb Ev'ry Mountain." She also starred on the television special, "Meet Judith Durham," in 1970 in London and on the March 13, 1974 episode of "The Benny Hill Show."
In 1990, Durham was in the middle of a car accident which she escaped with just a fractured wrist and leg. Afterward, she attempted a reunion with the Seekers that was cut short when her husband was diagnosed with motor neurone disease. He died on December 10, 1994 with her by his side.
In May 2013, Durham herself suffered a brain hemorrhage which diminished her ability to read and write not only visual language but also musical scores. During her convalescence, she made progress to rebuild those skills, but her singing ability was never affected.