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Judy Collins has inspired audiences with sublime vocals, boldly vulnerable songwriting, personal life triumphs and a firm commitment to social activism. In the 1960s, she evoked both the idealism and steely determination of a generation united against social and environmental injustices. Five decades later, her luminescent presence shines brightly as new generations bask in the glow of her iconic fifty-album body of work and heed inspiration from her spiritual discipline to thrive in the music industry for half a century.
The award-winning singer-songwriter is esteemed for her imaginative interpretations of traditional and contemporary folk standards and her own poetically poignant original compositions. Her stunning rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” from her landmark 1967 album, Wildflowers, has been entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Judy’s dreamy and sweetly intimate 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. In 2008, 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.
Judy began her impressive music career at thirteen 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.
In 1961, she released her masterful debut, A Maid of Constant Sorrow, which featured interpretative works of social poets of the time such as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Tom Paxton. This began a wonderfully fertile thirty-five-year creative relationship with Jac Holzman and Elektra Records. Around this time Judy became a tastemaker within the thriving Greenwich Village folk community and brought other singer-songwriters to a wider audience, including poet/musician Leonard Cohen—and musicians Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman. Throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and up to the present, she has remained a vital artist, enriching her catalog with critically acclaimed albums while balancing a robust touring schedule.
Prolific as ever, Judy recorded a DVD special Judy Collins: A Love Letter To Stephen Sondheim, in her hometown of Denver, CO. Along with the Greely Philharmonic Orchestra, Judy dazzled the audience with Sondheim’s beautiful songs and her lovely, radiant voice. Judy also released a collaborative album in June 2016, Silver Skies Blue, with writing partner, Ari Hest. Silver Skies Blue has been Grammy-nominated for Best Folk Album in 2017, this is the first Grammy nomination for Collins in over forty years.
In 2015, Judy released Strangers Again. She invited a cast of icons and young talents to sing with her on this fresh collection, from Willie Nelson, Jackson Browne and Jeff Bridges to Glen Hansard, Ari Hest and Bhi Bhiman. Judy delicately soars over a revitalized “Send In The Clowns” and breathes new life into “Hallelujah.” She puts her indelible touch on songs by Leonard Bernstein, Randy Newman, James Taylor and more.
In 2012, she released the CD/DVD Judy Collins Live At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art which aired on PBS. This special television program was nominated for a New York Emmy and won a Bronze Medal at the 2013 New York Festival International Television & Film Awards. Based on its success, in 2014 she filmed and released Live In Ireland, another spectacular show in Ireland at Dromoland Castle. This program also won a Bronze Medal at the 2014 New York Festival International Television & Film Awards.
Judy has also authored several books, including the powerful and inspiring, Sanity & Grace and her extraordinary memoir, Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music. For her most recent title, in 2017, Cravings, she provided a no-holds barred account of her harrowing struggle with compulsive overeating, and the journey that led her to a solution. Alternating between chapters on her life and those of the many diet gurus she has encountered along the way (Atkins, Jean Nidtech of Weight Watchers, Andrew Weil, to name a few), Cravings was the culmination of Judy’s genuine desire to share what she’s learned—so that no one has to follow her heart-rending path to recovery.
In addition, she remains a social activist, representing UNICEF and numerous other causes. She is the director (along with Jill Godmillow) of an Academy Award-nominated film about Antonia Brico, Portrait of a Woman, the first woman to conduct major symphonies around the world—and Judy’s classical piano teacher when she was young.
Judy Collins, now 80, is as creatively vigorous as ever, writing, touring worldwide and nurturing fresh talent. She is a modern-day Renaissance woman who 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 lights up the world and speaks to the heart.