Music To Your Ears: Meet Judy Torres

Your name has become synonymous with freestyle music. What is it and why were you drawn to it?

Freestyle music is a genre of dance music, born in the mid 1980’s, containing a mixture of electronic beats, with Latin influence.  It was born in New York and Miami, and today continues to thrive in the Hispanic Urban areas of the United States.   When my first song, No Reason to Cry, which is freestyle, was brought to me, the music was not yet labeled. I wouldn’t say I was drawn to it, I think it was drawn to me.  For me, it was simply a good song, with supportive and positive lyrics.  As the years passed on, and the genre of music became more popular, I was given the title, “Queen of Freestyle.”  It has been an honor to have that title, because now, looking back, I realize that freestyle music is simply, “feel good music, with lyrics about the simple things in life that matter”:  to love and be loved. 

Your latest single, “Stay”, is a remake of a country tune by Sugarland.  What about the song made you want to record it and how did you personalize to reflect your own style?

I first saw the lead singer of Sugarland, Jennifer Nettles, sing Stay on the Grammy Awards, and I was literally left breathless.  She sang the song with such raw emotion, and I really listened to the words.  The song, Stay, is about the “other woman’s” experience, and her discovery on reclaiming her life back.  In the beginning of the song, she pleads, “Why don’t you stay…I’m down on my knees…don’t I give you what you need?”  But by the end of the song, she does a complete turnaround and exclaims, “Why don’t you stay (with her)…I’m up off my knees…you can’t give me what I need!”  Who wouldn’t want to record that?? LOL  I personalized it, simply by removing the signature “twang” that is so well-etched in country music, and I gave it a couple of soulful rifts,  adding ad libs that were not there originally. I am very happy with the results – and by the way, I LOVE the twang!

You’ve been a successful DJ at New York radio station, WKTU 103.5 for over a decade and have developed quite a following.  How do you use your position to advance causes, other than music, that are important to you?

Being on the air at WKTU for 13 year has been quite a blessing, and it does offer me a platform to speak my mind (to a point that is, you know, FCC regulations and such).  Along with that opportunity comes responsibility.  And since being on WKTU I have been able to help organizations by performing for fundraisers, raising money for charity, and attending talks to schools about the importance of self-esteem and speaking about the reality of domestic violence. 

You have spoken about your ups and downs with self-image and weight issues.  How have you learned to deal effectively with either/both?

To be completely honest, I have a feeling that this will be a life long journey; a marathon in a way.  When I first began performing at a size 22, the audience used to chant, “Go gorda, go, gorda.”  – which is a not-so-kind way of saying, “Go fatso, go fatso.” My self esteem was lacking back then; I didn’t like myself.   It hurt me, it cut deep into my soul for almost a year.  One day I got fed up, I went on stage at Palladium in NYC and the chanting began again, but this time I said, “I wake up every morning, and I see EXACTLY what you see. It’s not a secret.  But I have to look in the mirror and deal with that myself – that is MY business. So today I choose to love myself exactly as I am – RIGHT NOW…and you know what?  I may be chunky, but I’m funky!!!”  The crowd gave me a standing ovation, and the chanting ceased. That day a new Judy was born, and I began to have a GREAT self-image.  I really like who I am, my inner core, and doing that has led me to like my outer core.  The weight issues are still there sometimes, but I keep myself in check.  I feel firmly that we have the right to accept who we are as we are in the moment, and we can still strive to look our best.  We are always, always desirable, loveable and worthy of that love! 

When people have an “issue” with my weight, I remind myself that it’s their issue, their hang up on themselves…it’s not about me at all.”

We know your musical style, how would you describe your fashion style? What style of outfit are you most comfortable in? 

I would describe my fashion style as hot and cold.  I love looking HOT! LOL…I love anything that shines, glitters, anything that says, “Hello, world! I am here!”  I enjoy feeling and looking glamorous…and then love being dressed down:  sneakers, sweats, hair in pony tail…matching ensemble of course.  And that’s why I love Lane Bryant – Laney knows me well!

You often wear Lane Bryant fashion. What keeps you coming back?

Yes! Most of my clothes come from Lane Bryant, and it has been that way for MANY years.  And I keep coming back because I know when I go to Lane Bryant the clothes are made with GREAT quality.  I know they are going to actually FIT!  I know that I am getting even more than what I pay for, and I know that Lane Bryant understands that I want to keep up with the times, AND still look fashionably cool!

You recently saw the new fall line. What are your thoughts and what are some of your favorite pieces?

Where do I begin? I LOVE the fall line! I feel that for plus size fashion, Lane Bryant is way ahead of the game, thinking outside the box!  For example, I LOVE the Crinkle Moto Jacket – it’s hip, it makes me feel cool, stylish and allows me to be a bit of a rebel!  With the Right Fit Jeans, (I’m a yellow), you can never go wrong! And kudos to straight leg jeans!  In Lane Bryant’s Icon collection, I’m loving the harem pants!  They are comfortable and look great on anyone with any figure.  And I’ve always been crazy about Lane Bryant’s Seven7 Line, specifically the embellished T’s – they’re cool, hip, comfortable and they fit my curves!!!

How do you plan on styling/adding your personal touch to your Lane Bryant favorites?

The best way to add my personal touch is to use the accessories in a different way!  I have been guilty of taking 2 necklaces, and make them into a belt, falling on my hip! Also, taking one of the Seven7 t-shirts and pairing it with a black pencil skirt with a large belt across the waist gives me a whole different look. If Lane Bryant permitted me, as a recording artist, I’d love to develop of line for a “Night Club” look. There are also teenagers and young adults out there, who I am SURE wish they could look just as cool and trendy as their peer “thin” counterpart BFF’s!  I think it would be fun!!

How does the confidence you have while wearing Lane Bryant fashion translate as part of your image?

When we were filming the video for Stay, it was a bit scary to do the “morning after” look.  I was a bit intimidated.  I didn’t’ want to look like I was “trying” hard to be sexy.  For the opening scene, I wore a Lane Bryant white button down shirt along with a floral bra and matching shorts…to be honest, I walked around the entire film crew in them for more than 3 hours!!!  Why?  Because I FELT sexy, and I felt comfortable in my own skin!  I remember while filming a scene with the actor playing my love interest, how I thought to myself, “These clothes make me feel so sexy!”  When I see the video and see the romance scenes, I am so happy that it gave me the confidence to get through that scene – and that scene in the video is my favorite of all the looks!! Now, I simply don’t question how I look in undergarments…it’s ALL sexy!!

Tell us about your blog “Dear Judy”, how long you’ve had it and how it empowers you to help the people who send you questions.

My blog at dearjudytorres.com began in February of this year, and I’ve gained followers very quickly.  I was inspired after watching Julie and Julia.  My fans were always asking me for advice at my website and at the radio station, and I’d also been writing an advice column for over a year a bilingual publication called Latin Trends.  I felt it was the right thing to expand this new avenue, it was naturally the next step.  It incorporates questions from fans needing advice.  It also documents my daily challenges being a plus sized woman looking for love and as a plus sized woman working to survive in the music industry.  When I receive emails from fans telling me they don’t feel alone in their quest for love and the challenges they face being a plus woman, I feel very good that I am being an honest role model for them!! It makes me want to strive to be a better person and to pave the way for others!

Go behind the scenes of Judy Torres’s new video Stay.