Judy Torres 2012 Interview

For almost thirty years, Bronx born Judy Torres has touched the lives of many with her unbelievable harmonious voice. She was influenced by the greatest iconic musical artists like Sammy Davis Jr., Barbara Streisand and Liza Minnelli. She was also magnificently inspired by two rock groups- Queen and Stix. “I loved the women but every time I heard Dennis de Young- I thought he had such an amazing voice. I just wanted to mimic him.” Judy always imagined herself doing two things: being on Broadway with her definitive love of musical theatre or becoming a spectacular Hispanic version of Barbara Streisand or Liza Minnelli. “That’s really what I wanted to do.”

She grew up in a fearful, abusive household and could not wait to go to school; it became a comforting escape and the stomping ground that began her vivacious career. During High School she performed in every play, sang in the choir and tried out for every talent night. “I carried this through college and I loved it. My second year of college I started having success with recording and I started touring.”

After years of performing and being heard around the world, Judy was diagnosed with MS. She fell into a deep depression and wanted to take her life until a spiritual awakening happened.  From that moment on- full support followed Judy, including the introduction to Montel Williams. He gave her a great determinative eye-opening lecture on the power of positive thinking- which she holds in her heart and recites daily. You won’t catch Judy talking about the disease unless she is asked about it.

Recently, exactly what happened to Adele… happened to Judy. She has just recovered from vocal cord surgery.  While she is strengthening her voice, she is preparing for her reappearing role as Aunt Toni Ann in the Off-Broadway performance of My Big Gay Italian Wedding. She will be performing live Saturdays in November and two Sundays in December. It’s a six week run for her at St Luke’s Theatre in Manhattan. Her dreams are all falling into alignment.  “You have to find your purpose; you have to find your dreams. Going after your dreams you will get one million NO’s before you get one YES. Every time you hear a NO, believe that you are that much closer to hearing a YES!”

With her heart of gold, a soul of beauty and the poetic kindness that every person should possess, Judy Torres is one amazing woman inside and out. She spent an afternoon with Carla Gitto and I at Andreas 25 in Woodbury.

Your lyrics… Are they from your own personal experiences?

In the beginning my songs were written by other people. I co-wrote “Come Into My Arms.” That was based on personal experience; I was going through a pretty bad heart break at the time. The guy I really fell in love with just disappeared off the planet after telling me he loved me. He was supposed to come to Thanksgiving dinner with my mother and I. We were together the night before and then on Thanksgiving he never showed up. I called him and he was literary gone. I never heard from him again. I wrote the last verse of “Come Into My Arms.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGc_mJq47_k&feature=related

Your lyrics have touched a lot of lives. Have people told you that over the years?

They have, especially with my song “No Reason To Cry” which is kind of an irony. It wasn’t supposed to be my song; it was originally given to another woman to sing. I had a song called Loves Gonna Get You. One day during dinner the girl confessed to me she didn’t like “No Reason To Cry” and I was like are you crazy? So I spoke with the producer and told him how we felt about each other’s songs. He said he didn’t care if we changed songs, as long as we record it. The song has been used at memorial services also; that is very touching. Now that we live in this internet age and your fans can really speak with you, I found out how much the songs meant to others. I heard many people tell me that that song got them through a heart break.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY1Vd-r6VMY

What year was your big break on the music charts?

1987 … just yesterday right?

Why did you choose the Freestyle genre over the Pop genre?

I didn’t. Freestyle chose me.  When I was given the song “No Reason To Cry” it didn’t have a label. It was just music. As we got more recognition and we started getting played on the radio that is when this became a movement. The music industry said, “What do we call this?” At first they called it Latin Hip Hop then Latin Freestyle and then it just became Freestyle. It chose me.

Did your “living in fear” throughout your early childhood keep you from pursuing your dreams at an earlier age?

I remember when I was 8 or 9 and I felt depressed for some reason. I began to sing in the bathtub and I felt better. I decided from that day forward I was going to be a singer. Whenever I was scared I closed the door in my bedroom, blasted the music and sang. That is what I love about music. It can help you get in touch with emotions that you cannot necessarily express. A song is an emotion that is suspended for approximately four minutes. So back to the question, I think it made me more determined.

Music is the universal language! Did it play a role within you when you found out you were diagnosed with MS?

Around 2005 I went blind in my one eye and I had intense pain in my head. I had Optic Neuritis and I was in pain for six weeks.  That’s how I found out I had MS. My reaction was defeat. It was “Why me?” My reaction was human! The thing that bothered me the most was that every night when I go to bed I pray and say thank you. I thank God that I can speak, walk, talk, taste, see, hear… I never took those things for granted. Maybe I would have understood this more if I wasn’t like that. I never took anything for granted. While I was in the hospital I had nothing to do but read books on MS. I will admit that a few nights later I did contemplate suicide. I kept reading that there is no cure; it is progressive and you’re going to die from it. For a moment I thought well than let me get this over with.

I am so sorry. What happened with those emotions?

I went into the bathroom and I literally heard a voice that said, “Do you want to live?” and my answer was yes. And then about a week later, after being very depressed, an old boyfriend said to me, “Can you still sing? God didn’t take your voice from you, you can still walk and talk and sing- so get up and stop feeling sorry for yourself!” At first I was so pissed, I felt like he had no compassion. But he was right. Everyone has a cross to bear and this is mine.

Ah, you said an “old” boyfriend. So I am assuming you have a new one now. Did you listen to your own music during the heartbreak?

No. I don’t listen to my own music. Maybe while I am recording, during recording and just aft wards. Then I’m done.

How many CD’s do have out by now?

It’s been over 25 years. I have had two albums, several billboard songs on the charts. In 2006 I did “Faithfully” which wasn’t freestyle music. It sort of revived my career. I am focused on getting my voice stronger now so I am working with a voice teacher. Yesterday I did record with another artist who asked me not to say anything. I recorded a song with him/her so after my Big Gay Italian Wedding I’ll be looking to get back into the studio to record.

Let’s talk about My Big Gay Italian Wedding…

I was in it last year. Thanks to Kim Sozzi, she helped me get it. I didn’t really audition much and they helped me do my part. I am super excited to do this show again. I play Aunt Toni Ann. I sing two songs.

So as per the beginning of our conversation, you dreamed of being on Broadway. Was the moment you were on stage a piece of your dreams coming true?

I cried. YES. I cried when they told me, because from here I can only go up. The best thing about playing in the play is putting the wig on. My character is so much fun, she is great. It is fun to be someone else sometimes. I love it, I love the cast. It is hysterical. I am really proud to be a part of it.

Have you had any challenges in your career outside of the ones above?

My biggest challenge was my weight. I don’t have a problem with it but it seems like everyone else does. My first manager said I would never get signed looking like this. I was bullied and have always had issues with my weight. I have always been a bit chubby; I got made fun of a lot. When I told people I wanted to be a singer, they laughed at me. But my mother always encouraged me.

Does this anger you?

It hurts. But it hurts because it hits a nerve. I remember one time I was nursing a broken heart and I was crying in front of my father. He put his arm around me and told me I could tell him anything. I was thinking this was the perfect time to have a moment with my father. I told him I was being cheated on and I was devastated. Instead of saying that man was a jerk…my father said “It’s OK. The problem is that no man is really going to love you with you looking like this!” He was trying to say men are superficial…it didn’t come out right and it was hurtful. My weight has been a thorn in my side. If I could, I would like to have my own Plus Size clothing line. I think there is no voice for the younger girls.

Judy Torres is a very beautiful woman, inside and out. She sang a few songs for us at Andreas 25 and talked in-depth about her disease; her challenges, her career and her love for life. She is an amazingly talented singer, song writer, actress and performer.  You definitely need to see her perform in Manhattan in the Off-Broadway musical My Big Gay Italian Wedding. Tickets can be purchased at the following link:

http://www.biggayitalianwedding.com/

Check out her 2010 single STAY:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylyO53p8gXE

For more information on Judy Torres:

Website:

www.Judytorres.com

Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/mobileprotection#!/judytorresmusic

Twitter:

@judytorresmusic

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About Alysia Stern

Alysia Stern is a multi-published children's book author. She is also a celebrity interviewer for SpotonLongIsland magazine, a restaurant media on Long Island and the host of a new talk show " Rendezvous with Alysia" which airs live on Saturday mornings on MadhouseTV.com (live broadcasting) at 11am. She has been featured in newspapers, and on the radio. She is also a contributing free lance writer for FreestyleMania.com