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Judy Collins

 

Judy Collins has long 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 55-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. 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.  

Judy’s most recent collaboration with her as a singer-songwriter is the 2019 album Winter Stories, including critically-acclaimed Norwegian folk artist Jonas Fjeld, and masterful Americana band Chatham County Line. Winter Stories is a collection of classics, new tunes and a few surprises, featuring spirited lead vocal turns, breathtaking duets and Judy’s stunning harmony singing.   

Judy 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. 

 

 

Q: Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?


A: No, I do not. Contrary to popular opinion, a lyric is not a poem. And vice versa a poem is not a lyric. They are different animals all together in spite of what the Nobel Prize people think. 
 
Q: Do you think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why? 

A: Whatever happens in the song is what’s meant to happen and if it doesn’t rhyme it’s not meant to rhyme. 


Q: Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognized song structures such as clear rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that songs can also be like free verse? 

A: No, they do not have to conform. There are differences in shapes. For instance, I’ve been influenced by the new production of Hamilton, to find an appreciation of hip-hop that I have not had in previous times.  


Q: When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize any connection to the music you enjoyed?

A: Poetry, like music and like lyrics, all have the ability to stimulate memory and in that sense I think they share the ingredient of magic that makes them both necessary for life on earth. 

Q: Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your songwriting? 

A: I often find when I read poetry—sometimes Billy Collins or Walt Whitman or Edna St. Vincent Millay, some of my favorites, I find that a poem and or a song may be coming out of that experience inspired by it.  


Q: Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is? 

A: Melody has a perceptible ability to take our minds back to childhood memories and anything else that’s floating around in the force of the melodic memory. Music carries the lyric in the story in the way that impresses the subconscious as well as the conscious—at least I think that’s what happens. People who are incapacitated by some form of dementia are often able to sit up and sing, remembering words and music to things that everybody thought they had forgotten. I am told by people who study Humpback whales, that the songs they sing include information of all kinds—where to go, what to eat, what is safe and what isn’t.