The label owner and distribution manager was reportedly 63.
Ben Goldfarb, AKA DJ Scribe, posted that Russell, the cofounder of crucial labels like Nu Groove and the distribution firm Downtown 161, "passed suddenly on Tuesday after going into cardiac arrest just one day after being diagnosed with an advanced malignant tumor on her kidney." While the cause of death and age have not been elsewhere confirmed, a biography online places Russell's date of birth at 1956, making her 63 years old.
Alongside Frank and Karen Mendez, Russell was the cofounder of Nu Groove Records, which remains a quintessential piece of American house music history and counts Bobby Konders, Joey Beltram and the Burrell brothers in its discography. She also went on to cofound Downtown 161, another key imprint and distribution service, that released records by the likes of Kerri Chandler, DJ Sneak and Romanthony. She also worked at New York record store Vinylmania through much of the '80s. In a tribute post, DJ Tony Humphries described her as "my advisor and protector."
According to Goldfarb, Russell become ill after the closure of Downtown 161 in 2013, which saw her unable to work and culminated in her being illegally evicted while in hospital. A fundraiser event and campaign were held last year in an attempt to provide further support.
Russell received tributes from across the city's dance music community over the weekend as news emerged of her passing.
RIP Judy Russell pic.twitter.com/3NwfGsjQfM— Honey Dijon (@HONEYDIJON) July 8, 2019
Judy Russell thank you for giving me and my friends our first international start thru your distro Downtown 161, and took a chance on us young kids from the streets you always treated me with respect, honesty & tuff love, Your legacy will live on forever... THANK YOU 🌹 pic.twitter.com/BkcDbivxup— Anthony Parasole (@AnthonyParasole) July 7, 2019