Judith Durham, Lead Singer of Australian Folk Group The Seekers, Dies at 79

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Judith Durham, the Australian folk music icon and lead singer of The Seekers, has died, her record label announced Saturday. She was 79.

Durham passed away “peacefully” on Friday evening in Melbourne due to complications from a long-standing chronic lung disease, Musicoast and Universal Music Australia wrote on The Seekers’ verified Facebook page.

Born Judith Mavis Cock in Essendon, Victoria, on July 3, 1943, Durham began her professional career as a piano player. In 1963, at age 19, Durham recorded her first record with The Seekers, then a folk trio consisting of Bruce Woodley, Keith Potger and Athol Guy. That same year, she released a jazz and blues EP with the group Frank Traynor’s Jazz Preachers.

The Seekers took off in 1964 and became an international sensation with songs like “I’ll Never Find Another You,” “A World of Our Own”, “The Carnival Is Over” and “Morningtown Ride.”

Their 1967 song “Georgy Girl,” the title song of the movie starring Lynn Redgrave and James Mason, was nominated for an Oscar. It reached No. 1 on the U.S. charts.

The following year, Durham set out to pursue a solo career. Starting with “For Christmas With Love,” she released several albums and frequently toured in Australia, New Zealand and the U.K. over the next two decades.

The Seekers reunited in the mid-1990s. In 2013, they got together again for a 50th-anniversary tour.

“Our lives are changed forever losing our treasured lifelong friend and shining star,” Guy, on behalf of The Seekers, said. “Her struggle was intense and heroic – never complaining of her destiny and fully accepting its conclusion. Her magnificent musical legacy Keith, Bruce and I are so blessed to share.”

Her sister, Beverley Sheehan, added: “Judith’s joy for life, her constant optimism, creativity and generosity of spirit were always an inspiration to me.”

Durham was also remembered on social media by her legions of Australian fans.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called Durham “a national treasure and an Australian icon.”

“Judith Durham gave voice to a new strand of our identity and helped blaze a trail for a new generation of Aussie artists. Her kindness will be missed by many, the anthems she gave to our nation will never be forgotten,” he wrote on Twitter.

Australian actress-comedian Magda Szubanski wrote, “Her beautiful, crystalline voice was the naive but knowing siren song of my childhood. Deepest condolences to her loved ones.”

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