This week, Ira Sternberg spoke with Judy Collins.
Judy Collins is on tour with Stephen Stills and they’ll be performing in Reynolds Hall at The Smith Center on October 21. Collins’ new album, also with Steven Stills, is called “Everybody Knows.”
She has inspired audiences with her vocals, vulnerable songwriting, personal life triumphs, and a commitment to social activism. In the 1960s, she evoked both the idealism and determination of a generation united against social and environmental injustices.
The award-winning singer-songwriter is renowned for her interpretations of traditional and contemporary folk standards and her own poetically poignant original compositions. Her rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” from her landmark 1967 album, Wildflowers, has been entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Collins’s version of “Send in the Clowns,” a ballad written by Stephen Sondheim for the Broadway musical A Little Night Music, won “Song of the Year” at the 1975 Grammy Awards. She’s garnered several top-ten hits gold- and platinum-selling albums. Recently, contemporary and classic artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Shawn Colvin, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, and Leonard Cohen honored her legacy with the album Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins.
She began her impressive music career at 13 as a piano prodigy dazzling audiences performing Mozart’s “Concerto for Two Pianos,” but the hard luck tales and rugged sensitivity of folk revival music by artists such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger seduced her away from a life as a concert pianist. Her path pointed to a lifelong love affair with the guitar and pursuit of emotional truth in lyrics. The focus and regimented practice of classical music, however, would be a source of strength to her inner core as she navigated the highs and lows of the music business.
Judy Collins, now 78, is as creatively vigorous as ever, writing, touring worldwide, and nurturing fresh talent. She is also an accomplished painter, filmmaker, record label head, musical mentor, and an in-demand keynote speaker for mental health and suicide prevention. She continues to create music of hope and healing that speaks to the heart.