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Judith Balos

My Jazz Story

I went to the first St. Lucia Jazz Festival with friends. After that, they went home, but I decided to do a free stopover in San Juan. I'd found out there was a jazz festival, but when I got there nobody seemed to know anything about it. Then I found out there was a talk at a music conservatory with Mongo Santamaria and Roy Hargrove. I went to that and asked the emcee, Joey Sala, about the festival, and he told me that it was in the middle of nowhere, but I could take a taxi there. I asked him how I'd get back to my hotel later and he said, "Oh, people are friendly, someone will take you back, but if you don't find anyone, find me and I'll get you a ride you back." Sure enough I couldn't find a ride and had to go to him, and he found someone for me. After that I started going [to the Puerto Rico Heineken Jazz Festival] every year, and eventually the emcee started announcing me from the stage, saying, "Judy's here!"