Judy Carmichael, a Grammy-nominated jazz pianist, performed for a diverse audience last week at Radford University. Some people attended the show because they’re students and it was a class requirement, some because they’re supporters of RU’s music program, and some community members attended because they’re fans of Carmichael’s unique musical talent. She has been to RU three times previously and said, “I love coming here because it feels like I’m home.”
Jazz is certainly not the most popular type of music nowadays. It takes a lot to catch a young person’s interest with the way synthesized music has taken over recently. But right from the start Carmichael’s performance was attention grabbing. Her style has a swing influence, obvious in the way her feet bounced up and down on the pedals and everyone in the audience nodded their heads to the rhythm.
The New York Times called her “astounding, flawless, and captivating,” and she was exactly that. The most enjoyable part about her performance was when she told personal stories, one about how she embarrassed herself when she was promised a Steinway piano for a concert and made a scene when she was not provided one.
Carmichael is a native of California but moved to New York in the early ’80s. She has toured the United States, India, Portugal, Brazil and Singapore. She also does comedic skits and has appeared on the radio multiple times. It’s her well-rounded, relatable personality that made her such a fun artist to watch.
Accompanied by a tenor sax and guitar player, Carmichael’s stride piano style kept the audience captivated with her energy and passion for the music. For those who enjoyed the performance, her recordings and music books are available for sale.