“I was expected to be the flower-child folksinger who might soar but would come softly to my feet in golden fields.”
And so, perhaps, she has. In a career stretching more than five decades, Collins has been a piano prodigy, an anti-war activist and a chart-topping, Grammy Award-winning pop icon. Now, at 74, she continues to record and perform around the world, her crystalline soprano undimmed by time, tragedy or her own inner demons.
On Saturday, Oct. 12, the Edison Ovations Series at Washington University in St. Louis will welcome Collins for a special, one-night-only performance in the 560 Music Center.
Proceeds will benefit the Edison Education Endowment, which subsidizes workshops, performances and transportation for local K-12 students.
‘Sweet Judy Blue Eyes’
An Evening with Judy Collins is presented in conjunction with the exhibition 1968, opening at the Missouri History Museum Oct. 13.
In addition, each season Edison works with artists and companies to develop a Recommended Reading List, designed to help enhance the theater-going experience.
Recommended reading for An Evening with Judy Collins is Grassroots at the Gateway: Class Politics and Black Freedom Struggle in St. Louis, 1936-75, by Clarence Lang.
Raised in Colorado, Collins moved to New York in the early days of the Greenwich Village folk scene, busking in clubs and releasing her first album, A Main of Constant Sorrow (1961) at age 22. Her pristine interpretations of traditional songs, as well as works by Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton and others, helped define the folk movement.
Collins was instrumental in bringing public attention to Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Randy Newman and other emerging singer/songwriters. Her version of Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” reached No. 8 on the Billboard charts in 1967, while her cover of Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns” charted in 1975 and again in 1977.
To date, she has released more than 30 albums, most recently Paradise (2010) and Bohemian (2011).
In addition, Collins has authored six remarkably candid memoirs (and one novel) that together capture her own life and times as well as the mix of innocence and fury that propelled a generation.
“Many young people were marching against the war, and music captured our conflicting feelings of disenchantment and romantic idealism,” she wrote in Sweet Judy Blue Eyes. (The title is a pun on the classic Crosby, Stills & Nash hit “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” which Stephen Stills wrote about her.)
And yet it also was a time of “undeniable destructiveness as the war raged and the young trashed their bodies and their lives with the drugs many of us thought were so cool,” Collins added.
“It was a time of tremendous hope and of tremendous naiveté, a pivotal period in which we would see how far we could push the wall.”
Tickets and sponsors
An Evening with Judy Collins will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, in the Des Lee Concert Hall of Washington University’s 560 Music Center. Tickets are $50.
Tickets are available at the Edison Box Office and through the Edison website. The 560 Music Center is at 560 Trinity Ave. in University City. Edison Theatre is in the Mallinckrodt Center, 6445 Forsyth Blvd.
Edison programs are made possible with support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency; the Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis; and private contributors.