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Judy Collins Review

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
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Beautiful vocals from the lady with a half century of songs
From an American idol as a teenager in 1956 to the enduring queen of folk music - Judy Collins has enjoyed an unenviable career that shows no sign of ending just yet. Her fabulous concert at Birmingham Town Hall on Saturday 18 January included memorable tales about a veritable who's who of legends of the folk scene in this Audience with Judy style show. Judy, who released her latest album, Winter Stories, at the end of November last year, was sublime with just her guitar and Russell Walden's piano for accompaniment. She opened with her self-titled 'Song for Judith', released in 1971, and then followed with the classic 'Both Sides Now' from her breakthrough 1967 album Wildflowers.

Judy Collins
Judy Collins turned back the clock. Credit Miller Mobley


Interspersed with the songs were some magical reminiscences from Judy, starting with her childhood when she listened to traditional songs sung by her father, who had his own radio show for 30 years. She revealed that she first sang on stage at the age of just three, and was studying to be a classical pianist before she fatefully heard a couple of folk songs on the radio. Judy followed up the stories with a lovely rendition of Joni Mitchell's 'River', which appears on the Winter Stories album, and 'Diamonds and Rust' by her "very good friend" Joan Baez, who we later learnt bought her the glittery pink jacket she wore after the interval.

Judy Collins
Stories and songs from the last 50-plus years. Credit Shervin Lainez


After turning her back on her classical training, Judy arrived in New York in 1961, soon finding herself on the same bill as a 13-year-old Arlo Guthrie, son of the legendary Woody. By 1968, she had released eight albums and, in her own words, embarked on an affair with Stephens Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash fame, which resulted in Stills writing 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' in tribute to her. Other memorable encounters in Judy's back story included Leonard Cohen singing 'Suzanne' for her in 1966, which she performed at Birmingham Town Hall. Judy also delivered an equally delightful rendition of Sandy Denny's beautiful 'Who Knows Where The Time Goes', which Judy and Stills recorded as a duet in 1968.

Judy Collins
Judy was in terrific form. Credit Brad Trent


Other lovely offerings included 'That Song About The Midway' and the hauntingly poignant 'My Father', with Judy taking over keyboard duties from Russell. But Russell was back on the piano shortly afterwards for the climax to the concert, which saw Judy sing' Send In The Clowns' and 'Amazing Grace' for a suitably spinetingling finale.

Rating: 9 out of 10
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Why? Legendary folk singer in An Audience with style show
When: January 18
Phone: 0121 780 3333
Where: Town Hall, Victoria Square, Birmingham B3 3DQ
Cost: Tickets cost from 28
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