(Judy Gail is a singer, songwriter, story-teller and more. In her childhood, she had the opportunity of meeting a number of important musicians and entertainers, and being a participant in a unique moment in music history. Judy wrote to us and shared the following memories.)I am the daughter of Hecky Krasnow, who was Director of Children's Records at Columbia Records from 1949-1956. Josef and Miranda recorded several songs for Hecky. Josef and Miranda became good friends with my parents and visited at our house whenever they were in New York. They totally captured my imagination and that of my cousin, Karen Eisenberg.
The first time we heard them, we were eight years old. I had just begun to study the guitar. Josef and Miranda's duets kept me practicing daily so that I could play while Karen and I sang. We modeled ourselves after them and, as children, got numerous local paid bookings. Their international flavor influenced us to learn songs from other countries, even to sing them in different languages, and we became the annual entertainment at the United Nations family Christmas party. All of this thanks to Josef and Miranda, whom I remember ever so fondly.
My father was the producer and engineer of the Columbia 10-inch LP "Josef Marais and Miranda," the ‘zebra’ album. The studio was my second home, and I have vivid memories of the recordings of "Around the Corner," "Frances, Oh Frances," and the "Umbira Melody." I became obsessed with umbiras and Joseph gave me one that I had for years, until it rusted and kind of fell apart. "Mountain Is Far" was the first song of Josef and Miranda's that Karen and I sang, maracas and all. We became so good as a duet that my father hired us as backup singers on many of his recordings. I attribute this to the inspiration that Josef and Miranda gave to us to sing and perform.
I have photos of Josef and Miranda at one of my mother's scrumptious dinner parties that were not only filled with good food, but wonderful music as everyone crowded into our small living room to listen. One evening, my cousin Karen and I sang songs we'd learned from Josef and Miranda for them and got handy tips from them on being a duet. Miranda's antics on stage were a great lesson for me, one I continue to use today to capture my audiences as she captured theirs. Unlike many folk and rock singers who wear their torn jeans, no makeup, and unkempt hair, I learned from Josef and Miranda that a performer should stand out and be something pleasant to see as well as hear.
To this day, I love listening to their wonderful songs, harmonies, and musicianship. I still play the guitar and sing as a performance artist in various venues and in schools. I attribute much of what I do to the profound influence Josef and Miranda were in my life.
I am presently writing a book scheduled to be published in the Fall of 2007. It is a memoir about my father whose work behind the scenes as A&R man and producer has left the world a legacy of classics including "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "The Captain Kangaroo March," plus, of course, the recordings Josef and Miranda made for him. The book's title is A Charmed Childhood: Growing Up With Rudolph, Frosty, and Captain Kangaroo.
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Judy Gail at:
Karen & Judy performing, probably c. 1955
Miranda publicity photo of the 1950's,
personally inscribed to record producer Hecky Krasnow