ASHBURNHAM – It’s not every day a Grammy nominee comes to town.
Judy Pancoast will be gracing the stage at New Dawn Arts Center at 84 Main St. on Aug. 13 at 3 p.m. for a family friendly concert for children that’s sure to please all ages. The talented performer was nominated for Best Children’s Album in 2011 for “Weird Things Are Everywhere: A Reading Road Trip with Judy Pancoast” but the Grammy ended up going to American folk icon Pete Seger, not bad company to be in.
According to a press release Pancoast has long toured around the country with her children’s concerts and has also performed in several cabaret club venues, including her tribute show to the Carpenters, whom she met as a teenager. She writes her own songs, covers other songs, and is probably best-known for her original Christmas tune, “The House on Christmas Street,” which can be heard at residential synchronized light displays and on radio stations around the country. The official video has over 250,000 views on YouTube.
Pancoast later expanded the song into a novel and has performed community concerts at Christmas lights displays. In 2021, she co-wrote and released another Christmas song, “Christmastime in Maine,” a duet with fellow Maine native Kevin Scott Hall, which was featured in a Portland Press Herald piece last year.
She grew up in Waterville, Maine and earned a BA in Music from the University of Maine and then a master’s in education from the University of New Hampshire. She and her husband Philip raised their two daughters in New Hampshire, where they lived for 25 years before moving to Connecticut with their three rescue pets in 2020 to be closer to their girls, who both work in Brooklyn and work in the entertainment industry in New York City.
In addition to her musical talents Pancoast is also an accomplished writer. She recently completed a play for middle-schoolers, “Girl on the Moon,” which has been performed and is available for licensing. She has also published several short stories in various journals and is a member of The Recording Academy, formally the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences abbreviated NARAS, The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, and the Horror Writers Association.
She said that although she didn’t win the Grammy all those years ago “the nomination was the greatest professional thing to happen to me.”
“It truly validated my career choice, which meant so much to me because I was 51 years old when I got the nomination and I’d been working as a professional musician since the age of sixteen,” Pancoast said. “I enjoy making people happy, especially children. There is nothing like the look of unbridled joy on a child’s face when they are having fun. They keep me young, make me laugh, and fill me with happiness. I feel like I have the best job in the world.”
Like so many other artists and musicians, she was not able to perform during the pandemic.
“I got very sad. I felt like I was losing who I really was inside,” she shared. “Since I’ve been able to get back out there and perform it’s like a whole new lease on life! I really love playing and singing for kids, and I think they know that and respond to it.”
New Dawn Arts Center Founder and Executive Director Abigail Abbott said she was “thrilled” to book Pancoast, “who has such a rich background in performance for all ages.” Abbott went on to say that they have a lot of great events coming up and that she is “really striving to bring quality programming to our new art center and having a Grammy-nominee, like Judy, is helping us get on the map.”
Pancoast said she is happy to be taking the stage at New Dawn. When asked what she is most looking forward to about the gig she was quick to say, “meeting new friends and sharing my songs with them.”
“My audience is constantly growing up, so it’s important for me to be able to sing to the young ones,” she said. Also, I’ve never performed in Ashburnham before, so this is a whole new territory for me.”
She said she hopes lots of families come to her show because she can “guarantee that they will have a wonderful time that will be part of their family memories forever.”
“I say that because I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I hear from many of my fans who are all grown up and tell me how special my music and my shows were to them when they were children. Now they bring their own kids to my shows.
Tickets to her show are $12 and include ice cream. For more information on Pancoast visit judypancoast.com and follow Judy Pancoast on Facebook and Instagram.