Author Biography of Beatles Expert Jude
On the evening of 4 November 1963, Judy Southerland celebrated her tenth birthday with a bonfire hot dog roast in the back yard, never dreaming that half a world away a rock'n'roll group called The Beatles was performing in the Royal Variety Show for the Queen of England. But only five weeks later, her best friend, Pattie Holly Singer, approached Judy with a 45-record cover and the ecstatic proclamation, "These are The Beatles! Everyone's crazy about them! You have to pick one to fall in love with...by recess!" And thus began a lifelong interest in the life of John Winston Lennon, the founder and leader of The Beatles.
By 8 February 1964, when The Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show, Southerland was a devoted fan, whose interest in the band was equaled only by her interest in books and writing. Inspired by her favorite authors, Louisa May Alcott and Irving Stone, Judy published a book of poetry entitled Memories from Grade School Years and wrote, but never published, a second volume of high school poetry entitled, Broken Windows. The editor of her high school news-paper and a weekly contributor to her hometown newspaper, The Natchitoches Times, Southerland also won the state FBLA Public Speaking Award and was given the Richard D. Clanton Award for FBLA's Most Outstanding Student in Louisiana.
Entering Northwestern State University on full academic scholarship in 1971, Southerland pursued two degrees: one in English Education and one in History, Liberal Arts. She graduated with a 3.99, completing both degrees and 177 course hours in only three years. In 1974, she entered graduate school at The University of Maryland; Southerland received a Master's degree in English in 1976. Southerland began teaching English that autumn, and over the next few years taught on the junior high and high school levels. In June of 1977, she married Ensign Rande Monroe Kessler, an honor graduate of the United States Naval Academy and Company Commander of 10th Company. The two began a life of touring the United States: thus far, they have lived in 31 cities in 35 years of marriage. They have one son, Clifton Southerland Kessler, born in 1981.
Known now as Jude Southerland Kessler, Jude taught English, Creative Writing, and Business Communications at Troy State University from 1986-1993. She published articles in Louisiana Life Magazine and The Dothan Progress. Jude also taught a course on "Excellence in Business" for Southeast Alabama Medical Center, Sony, and many other businesses in Southeast Alabama.
In 1986, Jude began her research on the life of John Lennon. Collecting a personal library of over 300 Beatles and Lennon books, hundreds of periodicals, video tapes, audio tapes, and later, CD's and DVDs, Kessler did extensive secondary research on Lennon's life. She decided to use her English background and her history degree as well to write a biography of Lennon. Kessler wanted to do something no one had ever attempted: she wanted to tell the factual story of Lennon's life in a narrative format.
In 1993, the Kesslers moved to Kansas City, Missouri where Jude became the Executive Director for the Independence YMCA in Independence, MO. Graciously supported in this endeavor by YMCA Vice President, Mike Erwin, and by her husband and parents, Jude was able to continue her work and research on Lennon while she was employed at the YMCA.
In March of 1993, Jude and Rande headed to Liverpool, England. They interviewed The Beatles' first manager, Allan Williams; Liverpool College of Art professor, Colin Fallows; friend of John Lennon, June Furlong; Merseyside promoter, Sam Leach; John's uncle, Charlie Lennon, and so many more wonderful people. Rande took the amazing photos that have since been incorporated into his striking art poster, "The Doors of Liverpool."
For the next six years, The Kesslers returned to Liverpool over and over again. They interviewed Bob Wooler, Rod Murray, Helen Andersen, Roag Best, Woody (Lord Woodbine), Beryl Adams, Tony Jackson of The Searchers, Billy May, Joe Flannery, and many other principal players in the Beatles story. Many of the Cavern regulars were also generous with their time and adventures.
During this timeframe, Jude Kessler wrote for the Kansas City Beatlemania magazine and for the YMCA publication, Perspective. She also wrote a letter to author Jim O'Donnell (author of The Day John Met Paul), and he rang her up to offer advice and support for her work on Lennon. O'Donnell encouraged Kessler to self-publish her books. Kansas City BeatlesFest Director, Richard Farrar, introduced Jude to Louise Harrison and Ruth McCartney, and both ladies graciously gave Jude extensive interviews.
In 2000, the Kesslers moved to Philadelphia, PA, and Jude began participating in the Fest for Beatles Fans. She was fortunate to meet Pete Best and to ask him several questions when he was a guest at the festival. She also met Bruce Spizer and Larry Kane, with whom she formed a friendship. In 2003, Kessler was the keynote speaker for the Pennsylvania State Convention of the Daughters of the British Empire. The topic? John Lennon.
The first book in The John Lennon Series, Shoulda Been There, was published in November 2007. One of Kessler's greatest joys was having John's dear friend, Bill Harry, assist in her research and write the Foreword for that book. That winter, Kessler began speaking about Lennon and The Beatles across the United States: at the Fest for Beatles Fans in New Jersey, Las Vegas, and Chicago; at the Melrose Arts Fest in Louisiana; at BeatlesFest West in San Francisco, and to clubs and organizations everywhere. She continued her research in her new home, Dothan, Alabama and contributed articles regularly to Dothan Magazine.
In 2010, the second volume in The John Lennon Series, Shivering Inside was released. Kessler continued to do book signings and speaking engagements. Richard Langham, Second Engineer at Abbey Road's Parlophone studio during The Beatles' years there, worked closely with Kessler on Shivering Inside and graciously flew to America for her book signings in Philadelphia and New Hope, PA.
From 2010-2012, Kessler has been hard at work on Vol. 3 in The John Lennon Series, She Loves You. Kessler resides in Shreveport, Louisiana with her husband, Rande. They continue to work on the Lennon series together, as a family project. Jude speaks once a week to various organizations about Lennon and does radio interviews and television appearances as well. She hosts a weekly John Lennon Series newsletter as well.
The Kesslers have two amazing grandsons, Maverick and Tucker. They have a gorgeous daughter-in-law, Paige, and their son, Cliff is now an actor in Los Angeles. One of Jude's
favorite activities is attending the many sporting events, concerts, and plays in which her beloved nephew, Cole, stars. Jude and Rande both enjoy running, watching LSU football and spending time with their cat, Mia. Jude enjoys reading, gardening, and cooking; she also enjoys spending time with her parents, Dr. and Mrs. T. P. Southerland, and her sister, Lisa. Rande loves soccer and science fiction.
In November 2011, Jude received the Nth Degree Award from Northwestern State University for outstanding achievement as a graduate of that university. She plans to return to Liverpool in the fall of 2013 to continue her interviews and research. Jude would love to find her elementary school friend, Pattie Singer, to thank her for a lifetime link with John Lennon...clearly the best decision anyone ever made by recess!