Born in Miami, Florida, Cheeks is the daughter of gospel legend Rev. Julius Cheeks. Her first recording was a blues album entitled Judy Cheeks produced by Ike Turner in 1973. A tour with Ike & Tina Turner followed. Cheeks moved to Germany in 1977 and recorded a duet with Austrian singer Udo Jürgens. Their performance on The Rudi Carrell Show made Cheeks an overnight success in Europe. In 1978 she recorded “Mellow Lovin'” which became an international hit and reached #10 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. Her 1978 album Mellow Lovin’ was produced by Anthony Monn (best known for his work with gay icon Amanda Lear) in Giorgio Moroder’s Musicland Studios in Munich.
Cheeks appears as a backing vocalist for Stevie Wonder’s The Woman In Red 1984 soundtrack album, Donna Summer’s Once upon a Time and Rumor Has It albums, Thelma Houston and Jerry Butler’s Just Thelma & Jerry 1977 album, on Amanda Lear’s 1979 album Never Trust a Pretty Face and on Boney M.’s Ten Thousand Lightyears. In 1986, Cheeks worked as a studio musician (providing backing vocals) on Alphaville’s album Afternoons in Utopia.
Cheeks wrote for Jobette Music – Motown. The Jackson 5 recorded one of her songs on their last Motown LP. She did a lot of session work for several major artists while sharpening her song writing skills.
In 1983 Pete Bellotte produced her third alum Hard on The Heels Of Love. In 1988 she co-wrote and produced her solo album No Outsiders in 1987 featuring the singles I Still Love You and Just Another Lie.
In the 1990s, she had a string of pop and dance chart hits, including two #1s in 1995, “Respect” and “As Long As You’re Good to Me”, as well as “Reach”, which appeared on the Summer Hitmix 94 CD released by ZYX Records. A solo album, also titled Respect, was released in 1996.
In 2013 Cheeks wrote and co produced a solo album True Love is Free with the hit singles Happy and Without Love We’re Lost
It was on a European tour with Ike & Tina that Judy got an offer to stay. “A Black American girl coming to Europe had everyone thinking they’d discovered the next Donna Summer,” she laughs. “When we got to Munich, a lady from Ariola Records with a heavy German accent sauntered up and asked point blank, ‘Vaht do you dooo? Ve vant you here!’ So I went to Europe with $35 in my pocket and stayed with friends. They had an 8 year-old son. Helping him with his homework, I learned German. I also watched television with English subtitles. I had it in about a year but Europe didn’t know what to do with me either. They’d say, ‘Don’t sound so Black!’ There was a big singer named Udo Jurgens. We did the song “Ein Mal Wenn Du Gehts (One Day When You Leave)” where we sang the chorus in German, he did a verse in German and I wrote an answer verse in English. All of a sudden, I became a novelty star for being Black and speaking German! Then my producer at Ariola, Tony Monn, reluctantly cut a song on me titled ‘Mellow Lovin’ and it became a hit, too (thanks in part to a mighty Tom Moulton mix)!” “and the rest as they say is history”
In 2018 Judy Cheeks released a new single “Crying In The Rain”. A song written by Judy and Steve Lee, and first recorded by Randy Crawford as “When The Evening Comes”. Judy’s own version features her powerhouse vocals cherished by her fans. Also included in the release are two stunning remixes by producer Steve Lee and Simon Ellis, the S & S mix and Paleface Mix.
Now get ready to step into the Danger Zone with Judy Cheeks as she releases her new album, which features all the musical genres Judy has mastered over the years.
Thanks for joining me on this fascinating journey through the Danger Zone! I’m so excited about this new project! It’s a collection of stories and melodies I’ve had stored away for awhile. I hope it brings you joy and even makes you dance a little. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the songs…