There’s such a strong legacy of women that came out of the “Drinkard Dynasty.” Not only do/should we know Dionne Warwick, her sister Dee Dee, her aunt Cissy and her little cousin Whitney. We should also know of many other supporting or shining stars that came from the extended family founded in Newark, New Jersey. One of the most emotive voices from the family may have not been a blood sibling but bonded with the family, and singers-fans around the world. Her name is Judy Clay, and we celebrate her on what would have been her 77th birthday.
Born Judith Guions in North Carolina, both her and her younger sister, Sylvia found themselves under the guardianship of Dionne and Dee Dee’s mother, Lee Warrick in the early 1950’s. Both would go on to be Drinkard Singers/Gospelaires and both would enjoy solo careers. But like their adopted siblings, the older one, Judy, was able to carve out a far more distinct identity, while the younger one would keep her foot in the performance industry by splitting time between soloist and sometimes featured lead on recordings as one of The Sweet Inspirations. Like Dee Dee Warwick, Sylvia’s backgrounds would go on to be a dominant force on many a soul and pop record from the Mid-60’s onwards.
Judy would go on to try to carve a solo spotlight for the majority of her performing career. She’s most known nowadays for her pairings with Billy Vera and William Bell. But Judy struck out on her own in 1961, and recorded a bevy of distinctively heartwrenching ballads throughout the 1960s. One of the most naked and vulnerable was this beat ballad from early 1964; more gospel song full of inspiration of letting love go to see if it comes back, it’s one of the most bittersweet prayers you’ll ever hear. Happy Birthday Judy.