BORN BOSTON, MASS, AUGUST 12, 1942. DIED SAN FRANCISCO, MARCH 20, 2008, AGED 65.
ASHKENAZI-BORN singer Judy Frankel specialised in Ladino songs, gathering them from the remnants of the Sephardi community scattered around the world, and especially those who had settled in the USA.
Born Judith Bradbury into a family descended from East European immigrants, she studied music at Boston University, graduating in 1965. She moved to San Francisco in 1969 with her husband, Ken Frankel, from whom she was later divorced.
A classical singer, she was in the San Francisco Symphony chorus for 10 years and in 1980 co-founded the San Francisco Consort, an early music group in which she was a soloist.
But she was also a folk singer and entertainer from the age of 13, performing at weddings, barmitzvahs and on radio and TV.
She first heard a Ladino song in a folk concert in the 1960s and was entranced by the plaintive music and the Hebrew words mixed with mediaeval Castilian. She wrote down songs sung by old men in San Francisco, then travelled to Europe and Israel to find more.
She sang in Spain and Portugal. In 1995 she sang at a ceremony in Lisbon to honour Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa, who gave visas to thousand of Jews fleeing the Nazis.
She recorded Sephardic Songs of Love and Hope on CD and published a song book, Sephardic Songs in Judeo-Spanish. Both she and her music feature in a documentary film, Trees Cry For Rain: A Sephardic Journey.