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Collins, Judy

songs folk hit album

Collins, Judy, folk-pop guitarist, pianist, and singer with a clear soprano voice; b. Seattle, Wash., May 1, 1939. Judy Collins moved as a child to Los Angeles, then Denver, Colo., with her family. She began classical piano lessons at the age of five, and studied for eight years under female symphony conductor Antonia Brico. Making her classical piano debut at 13, she took up guitar at 15 and began singing in Boulder, Colo., folk clubs at 19. At the beginning of the 1960s, Collins moved to Chicago, then N.Y., where she immersed herself in

the burgeoning Greenwich Village folk music scene. Signed to Elektra Records in 1961, she recorded two albums of standard folk fare before recording protest songs such as Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” and Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees.” She subsequently began recording the songs by then-unknown songwriters. Concert contained Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing on My Mind,” and her 5th Album included Richard Farina’s “Pack Up Your Sorrows,” Eric Andersen’s “Thirsty Boots,” and Gordon Lightfoot’s “Early Morning Rain,” as well as three Bob Dylan songs.

With In My Life, Judy Collins broke away from the folk singer role and established herself as a performer of a wide range of contemporary material. The album contained Dylan’s “Tom Thumb’s Blues,” Farina’s “Hard Lovin’ Loser” (her first albeit minor hit), Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today,” and two Leonard Cohen songs. The popularity of one of those songs, “Suzanne,” effectively launched the musical career of poet and novelist Cohen. Wild/lowers, the best-selling album of her career, included two of her own songs, plus two more Cohen songs and two songs by Joni Mitchell. One of these, “Both Sides Now,” became Collins’s first major hit and spurred the career of Mitchell. Who Knows Where the Time Goes continued the presentation of outstanding contemporary material with the inclusion of Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire,” Robin Williamson’s “The First Boy (Girl) I Loved,” Ian Tyson’s “Someday Soon,” and Sandy Denny’s title song.

After Whales and Nightingales, which yielded her second major hit with the traditional gospel song “Amazing Grace,” and two other albums, Judy Collins withdrew from music to produce and codirect a documentary film on the life of her former piano teacher, Antonia Brico. The film, entitled Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman, premiered in September 1974 and garnered an Academy Award in 1975.

Judy Collins moved fully into the pop field with her recording of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” a moderate hit in 1975 and a major hit upon re-release in 1977. She achieved a minor hit with “Hard Time for Lovers” in 1979, the year she debuted in the Nev. casino circuit.

She continued to perform six months a year, appearing with symphony orchestras and at concerts and supper clubs around the country. Following 1984’s Home Again, Elektra Records dropped Collins from its roster and she subsequently recorded two albums for the small Gold Castle label, including Trust Your Heart, which also served as the title to her autobiography. In 1990 Collins switched to Columbia for Fires of Eden, moving to Geffen for 1993’s Judy Sings Dylan . In 1995 Pocket Books published Judy Collins’s first novel, Shameless, the title of her second album for yet another label, Mesa Records.

Along with Joan Baez, Collins set the standard for female folk artists in the early 1960s. Popular as a protest singer after her second album, Collins demonstrated impeccable taste in her selection of material during the middle and late 1960s, popularizing the songs of then-obscure songwriters such as Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, Leonard Co hen, and others. She was instrumental in launching the career of Cohen and Mitchell with her recordings of “Suzanne” and “Both Sides Now” in 1966 and 1967, respectively. She matured into a cabaret-pop singer of the first rank.

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