Judy Polan is an award-winning writer and musician who grew up in New York state and currently lives in the bucolic, arts-filled Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts.
|Judy in "Folk Glitter Queen" regalia|
Judy writes primarily about design, architecture and travel, and did so for Style 1900 magazine for nearly a decade. (She was its Senior Editor for several years, until it went the way of hard copy magazines in 2013.) She was also a contributing editor and regular book reviewer at Modernism magazine. Her articles have also been published in Berkshire Living, PRIME magazine, Houzz.com and The Workbench Life, an online journal about interior design and home improvement.
Judy penned more than a hundred arts and feature stories for the Jewish Ledger newspapers; these range in subject from the glorious arts scene of pre-WWII Vienna, to a dinner with Arlo Guthrie on the eve of the fortieth anniversary of “Alice’s Restaurant”, to celebrated actor Leonard Nimoy’s second career as an avant garde photographer.
She received an Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, for her 2004 article “Aaron Lansky: The 'Yungerman' who outwitted history and saved a civilization”.
Memoir and poetry
Judy’s humorous memoir essays have been featured, in her own voice, on WAMC/Northeast Public Radio's popular shows Roundtable, Midday Magazine, and 51%; and in print in Hampshire Life magazine. Her self-published book of poetry, Glasgow Colours, was written during a time of transition between music and writing careers, via a Decorative Arts Programme at the University of Glasgow.
The Folk Glitter Queen and beyond
Judy is known to longtime fans of her music as "The Folk Glitter Queen". For over two decades she was a beloved entertainer on New England's acoustic music scene; her eclectic repertoire meets at the intersection of pop, folk, and cabaret music. She is particularly known for her warm stage presence and zany sense of humor. Her hilarious renditions of songs from The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan were perennial audience favorites.
|Judy with Meinhardt Raabe, coroner in The Wizard of Oz|
She appeared as headliner at coffeehouses including Passim (Cambridge, MA), Caffe Lena (Saratoga Springs, NY), the Iron Horse (Northampton, MA), the Sounding Board (Hartford, CT), the U'n'I Coffeehouse (Springfield, MA), the Stained Glass Coffeehouse in Chicopee, and at many other clubs, festivals, and concert halls throughout New England. For ten years she was a featured performer on New Year's Eve at Northampton's elegant Academy of Music Theatre, playing for sold-out houses from 1996 to 2001.
Judy is a four-time recipient of the "Favorite Musician" award in the Valley Advocate Readers' Poll (1995, 1994, 1993, and 1985). Her critically acclaimed first album Judy, Judy, Judy (1984) was named "Local Album of the Year" by radio station WRSI-FM (Greenfield, MA). Dick Pleasants, host of WGBH/Boston's "Folk Heritage" called it "one of the best first albums I've ever heard".
In 1986, she released Look to the Stars, her second LP. Dream Dances -- her third album -- was released in 1992 on CD and cassette. Described as "an inner voyage of fantasy, hope and remembrance", it is dedicated to the spirit and artistry of Fred Astaire.
|Judy during her Shirley Temple incarnation|
In 1996, Judy composed and recorded a song set to William Wordsworth's famous poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud". It was featured as the theme song for an international tourism campaign in the Lake District of England; that spring, Judy debuted her new album Daffodils at a special reception for the British press at Rydal Mount, the poet’s historic home. The gala remains one of the most notable events of her career, combining her love of music, poetry, English gardens and champagne -- all in one sparkling evening.
These days, Judy is mainly focused on her design and travel writing, much of which can be found on her blog Mad for Mod. She has facilitated workshops at several Writer's Conferences at Baypath University and other educational venues. She is open to doing the occasional performance in listening room situations – coffeehouses, libraries, or private homes. To contact Judy via email, link here.