As a professional western singer, yodeler, storyteller, educator, songwriter, and cowboy band leader, Judy Coder wins over audiences with her musical talent and versatility. Whether Judy is leading "the hottest cowboy band in Kansas" or providing an elementary school educational program, the result is always an audience captivated by the quality of her performance.
A native of Wichita, Kansas, Judy grew up listening to and studying classical music. She moved to Topeka to study music at Washburn University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in Music Education. While teaching music in the public schools, Judy continued to perform in the classical style, singing an occasional aria with the Topeka Opera Society and Concert Association (TOSCA), and as a frequent lyric soprano soloist with the Topeka Festival Singers. At the urging of her father-in-law, she performed with the Elmont Opry, a church fund raiser. Through this start she became involved in bluegrass and then, after being exposed to the music and yodeling of Patsy Montana, fell in love with western music. As Judy's popularity as a western singer and recording artist grew, Judy decided in 2000 to "give up the day job" and pursue her western music interests full time.
Judy's impressive three-octave vocal range is not only great for the classics, but ideal for cowboy style yodeling. She has received several awards for her yodeling, including being named the 1999 Pasty Montana National Yodeling Champion and the 2001 Western Music Association (WMA) International Yodeling Champion. Judy was nominated by the Academy of Western Artists (AWA) in 2002 for Yodeler of the Year. She has numerous nominations for awards by the WMA, including 2003 Entertainer of the Year, 2005 Female Vocalist of the Year and the 2005 Crescendo Award.
In May of 2003 Judy organized Judy Coder and Pride of the Prairie. The four-piece acoustic ensemble performs western swing, traditional music of the American west, and newer music closely tied to the North American cowboy. Judy writes the musical arrangements for the group. The band's repertoire includes her unique arrangements of some of the biggest hits of the genre, including "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds", "Streets of Laredo", and "Cool Water". The group has twice been named WMA International Harmony Singing Champions, in 2003 and 2005. Judy Coder and Pride of the Prairie enjoy frequent appearances to sellout crowds throughout Kansas, and are booking special performances across the country. Their three recordings on the Santa Rita Records label include "By Request" (released 2004), "Western Sky" (released 2005), and "Singin' Down the Road" (released 2007). In this year's WMA Awards nominations, "By Request" was nominated for Traditional Western Album of the Year. One particular song from that album, Alan Lawton's "I Wish I Loved Texas Like You", reached #1 on the Western Music charts in October 2005.
Judy maintains her teaching certifications and provides historical reenactment educational programs throughout the nation to youth and adults. Her programs include Settling the Great Plains; The Wild, Wild Women of the Wild, Wild West; Real Cowboys and Cowgirls; The Early Days of Kansas; and of course, Patsy Montana: the Cowboy’s Sweetheart. She toured the Czech Republic for three weeks in Winter of 2004, and introduced enthusiastic audiences to the real cowboy in song and story. She returned to Europe for another tour in March 2007, with performances in the Czech Republic and Germany.
Judy Coder has released three solo albums of western music, "A Tribute to Patsy Montana", "Pride of the Prairie", and "Frontier Songs", along with the three albums she has recorded with her great cowboy band. She has released a collection of classical music, and produces albums for other artists upon request. Judy's recordings are enjoying radio airplay throughout the United States and Europe.