Judith Gayle-Wright was born and raised in Chateau, Clarendon. From ever since she could remember, music has always been her love. She traveled to the Cayman Islands to perform in 1983, and when she was about 14 years of age, she auditioned for the ‘Tastee Talent Competition’. Although she was not selected for the competition, Judith had shown her audience a taste of what is to come.
Judith relocated to Negril to reside with her brother, who owned and operated several businesses along the northern coastal areas. She was eventually employed with Hedonism II Resort as a ‘singing entertainer’, and she entertained on the North Coast of Jamaica for approximately ten years.
In 1998, Judith was the first runner up in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission Popular Song Competition with her first single ‘Mi Na Lef Jamaica’. She then teamed up with Lady Saw to record a song entitled “Matey”. Judith was also a back up singer for Ritchie Stephens.
She felt God calling her back to the Christian faith and she finally gave up her ‘secular’ lifestyle and singing career to be sold out to God. Judith is currently a proud member of the Overcomers Christian International.
To date, Judith has recorded three gospel albums. She had released her first album in 2000, Jesus Is Alive, and in 2003, she was back on the scene with her second installment, Sun Shines Again. In 2006, she released her third album, Broken To be Blessed.
1. Hey Judith……..Come mek wi Chat….First of all, Welcome to Jamaicans.Com…. So, Judith, who was your inspiration? When I was growing up, Shirley Caesar and F.C. Barnes were my inspiration. Years later, when I came back to God after being out in the world for quite some time, I heard a young lady by the name of Carol Carridice, sing a song entitled, “I’ve got a Roof Up Above Me”, and I thought to myself, “ Wow, that’s powerful”. She inspired me to start singing gospel music again and not just sing, but minister to people in song.
2. At what age did you begin ministering to people in song?
Mmmm…. about 11 years old. I used to sing at various events at my church, like the church ‘ rallies’, concerts…and so forth.
3. You are currently a household name in Jamaica as a gospel artist. Did you ever dream you would be where you are right now, both professionally and personally?
No. Honestly, No. Where I am now is so interesting. I completed my first album entitled “Holy Spirit” and before it hit the streets, it was said that the album was ‘foreignish’. I then wrote another song for the album. The song was entitled‘Hey, Hey, Jesus is Alive’. The album became popular and began to sell. Anyways, I did not produce anymore of those kind albums. I took the song ‘Hey Hey, Jesus is Alive’ and placed it on my second album, ‘The Sun Shines Again’. Looking back at it all, I never even thought that with all what it took in the beginning to create and produce an album, I just never dreamt I would be this far. But you know, if I knew of someone who has come this far in life, I would have to wonder what process the person has gone through to get there. You don’t just get to a certain place without going through a process. The process allows you not to take things for granted. I think you do have to go through the pain of the process. People will see the finished product, or what they see as a finished product, but I had to go through a lot to be where I am. That is why I take care of what I have now. I guard my spirit because this anointing on my life has costs me a lot. It is not just a preacher saying to you ‘you are anointed’….it is not like that. The anointing will cost you something. The process was very hard and difficult.
4. Can you tell us about your journey from the secular music arena to the gospel music arena? Was it a difficult process for you? Any regrets?
When God has a purpose for your life, you will find that at some point you will get tired of whatever it is you are doing out there. Listen, I had a good life living the secular lifestyle, according to the world lifestyle. I had friends, a nice car, lovely home, clothes, money; I could jump on a plane and go anywhere I wanted to go, whenever I wanted. See, I never had that luxury as a child, and it was a new thing for me. I enjoyed being able to have all the good things. But I felt an emptiness I could not explain and did not understand what it was all about. I had stopped going to church. See, I refused to go to a church where the Holy Spirit was fully embraced and fully manifested. If….and I mean If… I do go to church; I went to a catholic church. It was quiet. (laugh). Then one day, a friend invited me to sing at a church and I refused, because it was one of those Pentecostal churches. I did not want to go but my friends coerced me and I went. After I sang at the church, people surrounded me and began to pray for me. When it was all over, I went back home, and I continued with my lifestyle. Their prayers did not touch me as I did not feel anything when they were finished….or so I thought. However, one night I did a show at the hotel and after the show, I said to my friends “When I leave the hotel business, this is not the kind of show I want to do” The week that followed when the people prayed for me, I was at home watching TV and I started to cry. I was wondering why I was crying. I knew if I told my friends they would just laugh at me because I had no valid reason for crying. I remember I knelt at the bedside and said ‘Help me God’. The same weekend, I decided to visit my ex-boyfriend who was the nephew of Byron Lee (of the Byron Lee and the Dragonaires). We were separated for a year and he had moved to Kingston, and even though we were separated, we still had a friendship going. On my way to Kingston, I stopped in May Pen to say hello to my old Pastor’s children of my old church. You see, that very week, the Pastor’s son had called me because they have been watching me on TV and they had not seen me in person for a long, long time. Long story short, I never made it to Kingston that week-end. My life was changed that week-end.
Regrets? I had no regrets. When I had just given my life back to God, I used sit by the phone, ready to call my old job at the hotel and go back to the lifestyle. It was at those precise confusing moments, that a dear friend of mine would just call me, and somehow I ended up talking with her instead of calling the hotel. When I look back and see the people I used to be involved with, I said to myself, ‘Oh my God’. The ‘hotel’ lifestyle was not a pretty one, and I feel that if I had continued down that pathway, somehow my life would have ended. It was a path way to destruction. I recall a man once looked at me and told me “The only angel in Westmoreland is you”. He said that because I was new to the lifestyle and was not yet branded. In that life, if you are not like everybody, you feel that you are not a part of life. I chose not to get involved in a lot of things and I believe those choices saved my life. I believe God kept me. Even though I had all the money back then in comparison to my current state, I know I am living a better life.
5. Can you describe what’s it like for you to be singing gospel music as oppose to singing secular music? Is there a marked difference for you?
Yes, there is a ‘big time’ difference. In the secular music, you entertain the flesh. This is the side of the human being that can never be satisfied. No matter what we do it cannot be satisfied. And trust me, the flesh side of us human beings do feel good. But on the ‘gospel’ side of music, you actually touch the spirit of man. Yes, people feel good, but without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, you can never see lives transform before your very eyes. You cannot see that total peaceful transformation when you sing secular songs to people. Sure love songs have their place, but more times than not, it drives that person to a place of seduction, lust and promiscuity; that is the human side that is being fed. I find that when you are born again in Christ, and God anoints you to sing, you touch the very soul of man and your songs break yokes from people, and lives are transformed because it touches a place that only God Almighty can touch. There is a place within you that only God can touch, not even your boyfriend/spouse can touch there. The real ‘feeling good’ comes when God transforms your life. I think secular music does not have any substance. It sounds good and feels good, but in the end, it’s empty.
6. So far, you have recorded about three albums. Do you have a personal favorite album or song from your own recordings?
From the album, ‘The Sun Shines Again’, a favorite song of mine is ‘Praise His Name’, and on the album ‘Broken to be Blessed’, my favorite song is ‘More than a Conqueror’.
7. The recorded song on your second album “The Sun Shines Again” is one of my personal favorites. It is such a heartfelt song. Were there times when you felt like the Sun would not shine again?
Oh yeah, and of course, the song is so true. You know, the song was written by a mutual friend of my producer and I. This friend wanted my producer to produce the song for her. It was funny that my producer at the time, read the lyrics, listened to the song, and then he told the friend that he feels that Judith need to sing this song. The friend said she would pray about it, and the next day, she felt it in her heart that God wanted her to give it to me. So my producer, who was in May Pen, mailed a tape of the song to me in Kingston, with the lyrics and tune of the song. At that particular time in my life, the song rang true for me. When I received the package with the tape, I got my recorder and began to play the tape. It was such a moment because I remember being on my verandah, and as I began to play the song, the sun was shining, and then all of a sudden the rain began to fall. I was also laughing because my producer taped himself as he tried to sing the song for me; he sounded so funny on the tape. I was laughing at the way he was singing. But, later I realize how that little scene was prophetic for me, because I was laughing, the rain was falling and sun was shining again.
One night I had this dream of a garden of beautiful flowers, but the roots of the flowers were very dry. In the dream, this man drove up and I told him to take the flowers and water them. He took them and he says he would water them for me; however he says he could not carry all of the flowers all at once. It was during this time I was depressed and feeling hopeless. I prayed for God to kill me, because everything seems hopeless. You see, I had hit the bottom of the ladder. I could not afford anything. I had nothing. During this time, I was back in church but my ‘back in the fold’ experience was being shadowed by abuses and various negative events from those who professed to be of the same fold. I was abused by Pastors and some literally wanted to sleep with me. That is why that song came at a crucial time. I recalled I needed a certain amount of money to complete the album. I called my friends for help and no one would help me. My producer had already helped me in this project by charging me ‘pennies’ to produce the album. He practically did it for ‘free’. I went to a crusade and God provided miraculously for me. I was able to borrow the money from someone I knew. I wanted to pay this person back and agonized over the repayment. One day I got a phone call from someone and he said to come at a certain time and he has the money for me to get the copies of my CD’s on the market. I was living with this church lady, and after the launch of my album, she says God said it is time for me to leave her house. She left the house and took her keys, so I had no where to sleep that night. I thought of calling a church sister to put me up that night, because this woman literally kicked me out of the house. The church sister says I could come and stay with her. However, the next day, the church sister threw my stuff in the hall way because she came in and saw me on her phone. It just so happened that the same man who was in my dream who says he will take the flowers, but can’t take all, loaned me the money for my rent. At that time, the music Cd’s were in the stores and I was able to market and sell the Cd’s. With God’s help, I was able to pay him back. Now, I stand as an independent person in God. Not independent of my fellow human beings help when I need it, but I know who to go to first when I am trouble. When I am in need, I cry to my Father for I know if I ask God he will provide. The Sun always shines again.
8. Which of the three albums you think has been the most successful, in terms of people’s response? Why do you think this is so?
The Sun Shines Again, hands down, because anything that is birthed in pain, will come forth with an anointing. When you receive anything through that painful process, watch how it becomes gold when God is through with the process. My producer encouraged me to sing that song. He was not even a true believer at the time, He did not even go to church that much, but he knew that song was right for me because he knew that those words were my testimony and I was living the lyrics while I was singing the lyrics.
9. You were nominated for the prestigious MAJA Award in Canada. What was that like for you personally and professionally?
I performed in 2004 at the MAJA event in Canada. Oh man, I was at that event and it was one of the biggest shows that I have ever done, international wise. Then in 2005 I was nominated for the award and also a presenter at the event, which took place in Jamaica. You know what? I don’t know how to get excited. Initially, I tend to be rather quiet as I am not that demonstrative. That’s the person that I am. However, when the enormity of the occurrence hit me, I begin to think of where I am coming from and how I got to that point. I would sometimes call my friend and we talk about it and I’ll cry quietly. I know I have walked in disobedience to God for a period of time, and I accepted the path that I must take. For me, when you walk in obedience, there is a level that you will reach in God. I know I have not reached anywhere, but I do know that process of obedience is very painful, as well as rewarding.
10. Can you recall one memorable ‘concert’ moment that has greatly impacted your life?
Wow, there are so many of them. But I will say the night I launched the Broken To Be Blessed album. At the end of the concert, I made an altar call and a young lady came and gave her life to God. It was later when they took her backstage to meet me that I heard the whole story. She was invited to the concert by a friend, and she came, with the intention that when the concert was over, she was going to kill herself. When they took her to me and she told me because of that concert, and the ministry in song, she no longer has the will to die, I was blown away. You hear about it, but when you literally hear people speak these things in your presence, it is another matter. I know yokes are being broken when I see people crying, and hands lifted to God, people kneeling and people bowing down to God. I know only God can touch people in this manner at such gatherings.
11. You have recently gotten married. How are you enjoying ‘married life’?
I have two words: ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Interesting’ (laugh). At first, I must confess, I wanted to walk. But I have learned to laugh and praise through the little ‘moments’ in our lives. I have been happily married for one year and two months.
12. What ‘words of wisdom’ do you have for women who are currently seeking a spouse?
Marriage is for mature people, “it gat teeth and it can bite” (laugh). You have to able to withstand the “biting when it starts to bite”. If you are a child of God, I would suggest that you marry someone who is at the same spiritual level as you are, and secondly, there must be a peace with the choice you have made.
13. What are your personal dreams and goals at this present time?
I am in the restaurant business and I am an entrepreneur. I have a desire to teach people about business and also how to have the attitude of Christ displayed in your business. Poverty is a reality and I believe, and know, there is poverty, but I don’t believe IN poverty. I want to be financially balanced because I want to help people. Another goal of mine is to establish a women’s ministry. I also want to train gospel artists and help produce their music.
14. Do you think you will be providing the Jamaican people with another album really soon?
15. Apart from singing, what other activities do you enjoy doing?
I have a boutique and I love to teach women how to dress. I love to see Christian women dress nice. I love clothes and shoes. When I was in the world I used to dress really nice (I’m just being real). Now that I know I am a child of a King, I will dress even more than when I was in the world.. …. The world nuffi look hotter than mi. (laugh)
I also enjoy baking, which I am currently doing for the restaurant anyways. I also love to encourage and counsel people, even though at times I need counseling myself (laugh).
16. You are a busy lady. How do you find time for ‘Judith’?
Well, see me, I will come to a stop and will say ‘mi noh want to see no body’. I will lock down everything and find time for me when I want it….I am number One. Of course, God is always number one, but I do need to take care of me above anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I love to work. It is through your hard work you will achieve…
17. What other type of music do you enjoy listening to?
…..Love Latin music because I love percussion instruments…..
18. Is there a message you have in your heart for the Jamaican Diaspora?
Always, Always, keep praying for Jamaica. I have traveled to various countries and there is no other country like Jamaica. Jamaica is indeed paradise. It still amazes me that everyone wants to be like the ‘Jamaican’. Do pray for this country and ‘neva figget yaad’….
Judith, Thank you For Participating in this Interview. Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors.
Judith’s website: www.judithgayle.org