Born in New Zealand, Judy Bailey started to play the piano at the age of 10, and became infatuated with jazz at the age of 12 after hearing a Fats Waller record. She went on to study piano at London's Trinity College before moving to Australia in 1960.

Today she is one of Australia's leading musicians and composers. A talented pianist who has been influenced by players of all styles, she has performed with every major Australian jazz musician. Her many awards include the inaugural APRA award for Jazz Composition, an Australian Entertainment award for Jazz Performance, the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for services to Jazz and Education, as well as the Award for Distinguished Services to Australian Music, presented at the 2008 Classical Music Awards by AMC and APRA. In 2014 she was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame (Bell Awards).