Bette Midler, Jewel, Kathy Mattea, and Donna Summer have sung her songs, so how come we've never heard of Julie Gold? The simplest explanation is that Gold, by her own admission, isn't much of a singer herself, so the stars who turn her songs into hits seem to get credit for the New York songwriter's gems.
In fact if it weren't for Midler's cover of Gold's "From a Distance," which became a smash for the performer and earned Gold the Grammy for Song of the Year in 1990, the songwriter might still be working as a secretary at Home Box Office. That's precisely what she was doing in 1986, when fellow singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith, an Austin, Texas-based folk-country performer, asked to record the cut, a demo of which had been passed to Griffith by yet another singer-songwriter, Gold's long-time friend Christine Lavin.
The song ended up on Griffith's Lone Star State of Mind album, and she performed it live at all of her concerts. Prompted by that exposure, says Gold, "It started to get recorded by bigger names like the Byrds and Judy Collins and Kathy Mattea, so it was known."
So well-known, in fact, that Midler included it on her 1990 album, Some People's Lives. After the Grammy win, Gold says, "I got a publishing deal, but the hustle never changes. I continued to write songs. I continued to get respectable cuts, but no grand slams, you know what I mean?" Griffith, Midler, and Patti LuPone have recorded Gold's "Heaven," for instance, and her song "The Journey" has been done by Kathi Lee Gifford.
While she's waiting for someone else to have the next big hit with one of her compositions, Gold plans to release a second CD of herself singing her songs, Try Love, in June. (Her first is Dream Loud.) Of late she's also been performing live periodically, and she will do so April 15 in the final installment of the Kaplan Jewish Community Center's intimate CoffeeHouse Series.
Says Gold: "It seems like there are some people out there who genuinely want to hear my music, so what better way than playing it myself? I'm not a great singer, but I am the most sincere deliverer of my music."