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Democracy, Judy Collins
Arts and Culture:
Voice of a Century
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Bill Moyers takes viewers on a revelatory and personal journey with singer Judy Collins, called “the voice of the century.” Still popular four decades after her first album, Collins reveals a window into her life and art, shaped by personal tragedy, but driven by hope. Read below about the career of Judy Collins or visit NOW's support resources.

Judy Collins

Judy Collins was one of the major interpretive folksingers of the 1960s. A child prodigy at classical piano, she made her first public debut at 13 performing Mozart's "Concerto for Two Pianos." But the music of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, the traditional songs of the folk revival, fired Judy's love of lyrics and by age 16, she had moved from playing the Steinway to playing guitar. As the decade saw more rebellion, Judy was drawn to songs by the social poets of the time: Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs and Dylan. She also worked with some of the best musicians of the era, among them Jim (Roger) McGuinn, who played guitar on her versions of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and Seeger's "Turn, Turn, Turn."

Collins's musical horizons were expanded further by 1966 and the release of IN MY LIFE, which added theater music to her repertoire and introduced her audience to the writing of Leonard Cohen; it was one of her six albums to go gold. Her first gold-seller, however, was 1967's WILDFLOWERS, which contained her hit version of "Both Sides Now" by the then-little-known songwriter Joni Mitchell.

By the '70s, Collins had come to be identified as much as an art song singer as a folksinger and had also begun to make a mark with her original compositions. Her best-known performances cover a wide stylistic range: the traditional gospel song "Amazing Grace," the Stephen Sondheim Broadway ballad "Send in the Clowns," and such songs of her own as "My Father" and "Born to the Breed." Collins recorded less frequently after the end of her 23-year association with Elektra Records in 1984, though she made two albums for Gold Castle. In 1990, she signed to Columbia Records and released FIRES OF EDEN, her 23rd album. A move to Geffen preceded the 1993 release of JUDY SINGS DYLAN...JUST LIKE A WOMAN; SHAMELESS followed on Atlantic in 1994. Six years later, Collins released ALL ON A WINTRY NIGHT.

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