Openly gay singer/songwriter Jude Adams always loved singing, but kept this love a secret until she performed for the first time on her 50th birthday.
Soon after she first started performing publicly, though, she was diagnosed with ME, threatening to end a career which had only just begun.
We talked to Jude about her music, the health issues she’s faced over the years and why she decided to be open about her sexuality from the very start of her music career.
PinkNews: Hi Jude, thanks for speaking with me today! So tell me, how did you get started playing music?
Jude: Well, when I was young I only ever sang in my bedroom on my own, literally behind closed doors.
My friends were in choirs, bands, sang in public and all that – but not me. I really just didn’t have the confidence, I think in my head I thought that I would have to be better than I was or maybe I was just worried that other people would be better than me.
But after I had worked in the fitness industry for 21 years, and then retrained as an interior designer, I started singing again to satisfy a need I had, and just as a hobby really.
I didn’t sing in public at all until my 50th birthday in front of 100 friends and family, which was slightly terrifying! After that, I started getting more into singing, doing little pieces here and there, eventually finding Janette Mason who went on to produce and arrange my album. The rest snowballed from there.
PinkNews: How has being an openly gay woman affected your work?
Jude: It’s funny, I sometimes wonder if subconsciously I chose to work with Jeanette Mason because I knew she was also openly gay and so she might be more sensitive to the material than a male producer would be.
My songs are quite openly about other women, so not every producer is going to be on board with producing a woman singer, let alone a woman singing about another woman!
PinkNews: Were you hesitant about writing so openly about your sexuality?
Jude: No, quite the opposite actually, I was pretty feisty about that aspect of it.
My wife and I both agreed that the song “This Girl, This Woman”, should be the title track, because it is not only about me transitioning from being a closeted singer as a girl through to realising these unimagined dreams in my 50s, but it is also about me and my sexuality.
I felt it was really important for me to put my stamp on the album as a gay woman. When I started really getting into my music, I never thought I shouldn’t be open about my sexuality.
But I do think, if I had started my music career earlier, I could possibly have been more hesitant about being so open.
PinkNews: Have you always been out in your professional life?
Jude: No, not really, I wasn’t open for a long time when I was working in the fitness industry.
I actually helped to run a gym a the House of Commons when I was in my 20s, and I was a victim of sexual discrimination there – they basically gave a promotion I was owed to a man who had just joined and was far less qualified than me.
So I was worried to come out, because I thought, well if they treated me this way because I’m a woman, God knows how they will treat me if they know I’m gay.
I did choose to hide my sexuality then, but I don’t see it as a weakness, it was what I had to do to protect my professional standing. It wasn’t until I was in my 30s and had moved to a different company that I felt more comfortable being open.
PinkNews: How did you meet your wife?
Jude: We actually met in 1995 at a hen party! She hadn’t had a girlfriend before, and I was just coming out of a long-term relationship myself, so it had to be a bit of a slow-burner.
But we’ve been together for 22 years now, and had our civil partnership in 2006 and in 2015 converted that to marriage.
Ordinarily marriage wouldn’t have been a burning issue for me, but I think being gay it was more important because I wanted to make a stand.
We didn’t need to get married in order to recognise our love and commitment to one another, but the point is we had the choice, and it’s being able to have the choice that’s really important.
PinkNews: You were diagnosed with ME (Myalgic Encephalopathy) just a few years after you started singing publicly. How did that affect everything?
Jude: Well, towards the end of 2011 I had become very unwell, and had just accumulated all these symptoms.
I had to cancel a lot of shows and rehearsals just because I would be too tired or ill for some reason.
But I had no idea what it was for a long time – I had flu-like symptoms almost permanently, and I would have these periods of extreme exhaustion, like my batteries had run out. It’s a neurological illness as well as a physical thing.
I also had periods of paranoia and neuroses at times.
Over the last 6 years, I’ve tried lots of different therapies – my partner and I started researching different methods as soon as I found out what I had, so now I am almost recovered, but I still have my vulnerabilities.
PinkNews: How did you get into songwriting?
Jude: Well, when I was ill I went through CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), and my therapist actually wanted encouraged me to write down what I was feeling in a journal, so a lot of material came from that.
I took some online songwriting courses, just to get the hang of how to construct a song, and eventually sought out Jeanette just to help me bring things all together.
When I contacted her though, I didn’t expect her to even respond to my request because I thought she was way out of my league! But she did and what started out as me thinking I would maybe just record a couple of songs, or maybe make an EP, became a full album.
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It became a much bigger project than I could have anticipated.
PinkNews: Which artists influence you?
Jude: I love Amy Winehouse, she without a doubt influenced my song “That’s What The Whiskey’s For”. I think Melody Gardot is a goddess, and Paolo Nutini I love as well.
PinkNews: What are your plans for the future?
Jude: Well, right now I’m in planning mode. Next year I really want to perform more, now I’m in better health.
I don’t think I’ll be able to do a full tour or anything, but right now I’m planning on performing at different cultural and women’s festivals next year.
I’m also going to be writing a memoir which will have songs to go with it, and I want to bring that out in the year of my 60th birthday, so that’ll be in 2019.
I’m hoping to also record a few more songs that have been left on the back burner over the last few years, so I may make an EP out of them or something, just looking forward to getting some new material out there!
Jude’s album This Girl, This Woman is available at judeadamssings.net.