Welcome to the Not Old Better Show. Today, I talk to the incomparable, Judy Collins. Judy Collins is appearing live at the Tally Ho Theater, in Leesburg Virginia, Friday night May 13. Other upcoming tour dates are available on her web site, judycollins.com
We all know Judy from the Crosby Stills & Nash hit, “Suite Judy Blue Eyes,” and she is certainly a favorite of our audience, and someone who’s beautiful soprano voice transcends most music styles, genres and the test of time, making her “not old, but truly better.” One of the leading singers of the 1960s and 1970s, Judy Collins was born on May 1 (my birthday, too). She grew up in Denver, Colorado, where she began studying classical piano at the age of 5. In her teens, Collins turned to folk music. She scored her first commercial hit in 1967 with the iconic Joni Mitchell song, “Both Sides Now.” Which is playing now. In our interview today, among the many subjects Judy talks about is her early recording career with Elektra Records, what she learned and how it influenced the rest of her work.
Unlike Joan Baez, who she was frequently compared, she used her classical music training to evolve into being a singer of art songs and show tunes, sometimes employing semi-classical arrangements.
After her public debut at age 13 as a classical pianist, July Collins continued to make her mark. She’s recorded more than 40 albums, using her lifelong love of the guitar and a broad range of material—from folk and pop to standards and her own compositions. Known for her clear, crisp soprano voice. Both Pete Seeger and Woodie Guthrie are influences, and Judy recorded one of her very first hits, a song by Pete Seeger, Turn, Turn, Turn, which you’ll hear.
Judy Collins is famous for her versions of songs by Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, Blood Sweat & Tears, and Judy’s version of the moving “Send in The Clowns,” by Steven Sondheim, from the musical, A Little Night Music, is among my favorite songs of all time. The song earned her a Grammy nomination and Sondheim took home the award for Song of the Year. Her recording of the song hit the charts twice, first in 1975 and then in 1977.
She’s also written two memoirs, a children’s book and a novel and is an accomplished painter, actress, filmmaker and record label head. In 1969, Collins made her stage debut appearing in a New York City revival of Peer Gynt (pear gint) with Stacy Keach and Olympia Dukakis. She later made other appearances on television, including guest spots on The Muppet Show and Sesame Street. Working behind the camera, Collins produced and co-directed the 1974 documentary Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman about her former piano teacher. The film received an Academy Award nomination.
Collins is a longtime social activist for causes that include UNICEF, suicide prevention, and artist’s rights.
Judy Collins has been a champion for equal rights for women and civil rights. During the 1960s and 1970s, Collins appeared at numerous protests calling for the end of the Vietnam War. She also helped African Americans register to vote in the South.
After four decades, she still records and tours. Now in her seventies, Collins continues to pursue her creative passions, including as a published author. She established her own label, Wildflower Records, in 2000 to release her own music and to support the work of the other artists. Through Wildflower, Collins put out 2010’s Paradise, which features appearances by Stephen Stills and Joan Baez.
Collins maintains a heavy tour schedule, playing more than 80 dates per year. She is also popular on the lecture circuit, giving talks about mental health issues and suicide prevention.Her latest project is a unique duets album titled Strangers Again, on Judy Collins’ own Wildflower label, available on Amazon.
Please join me and special guest, Judy Collins.