Legendary folk singer and songwriter, Judy Collins will be performing at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center on Friday, Jan. 12. Collins’ career spans more than 50 years and includes 28 studio albums, 14 singles, a variety of holiday albums and multiple live and compilation works. Collins also started her own record label about 20 years ago and has since been working and recording with lots of young artists, which she calls a “new adventure in her life.”
Her latest release, Everybody Knows, is a collaboration album with her and former lover Stephen Stills, of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The two were engaged in a short-lived romance in the late 1960s. The famous Stills song, “Suite Judy Blue Eyes,” was written for her by Steven, and the two have stayed friends since. Collins says the secret to their friendship is “that we are married to different people.”
In 2015, she also released a billboard compilation album, Strangers Again, featuring some of her favorite male artists, including Jackson Browne, Jeff Bridges, Michael McDonald and Willie Nelson. It’s safe to say Collins has barely slowed down since her first release in 1961.
“I’m still trying to write good songs and find good songs,” said Collins, who views herself foremost as a songwriter, then a performer. “I keep on writing and making that my primary musical exploration, and, of course, singing and performing, which is a whole ‘nother art form.”
Collins’ lyrics have long been associated with revolution and change. Considered a folk pioneer, her activism has never stopped. She was once commissioned by NASA to write the song “Beyond the Stars,” about the first female astronaut to captain a space shuttle orbiter. On today’s political climate, she said that we recently “have turned a bit of a corner” with the influx of women running for elected office.
“I’m disgusted by our situation with Trump in the White House, and my job is to encourage people to resist,” Collins said. “I think that is the message for the times, to resist. Do the things you might have forgotten. Voting, get active in your local neighborhood, find a family to support.”
Over the years, Collins has appeared on PBS television specials and has written 10 books, most of which are memoirs, and one mystery thriller titled Shameless. She lost a son to suicide and wrote a book called Sanity and Grace, the kind of book she describes as one “you don’t want to read until you need to.” In her books she focuses on addiction, including many of her own struggles with alcoholism and mental health issues.
In fact, Collins dedicates roughly 10 of the 150 shows she performs each year to mental health awareness, donating proceeds and helping to start discussions.
“I try to be supportive of a good cause, I try to make a difference,” she said. “I think my work is a service, and people need live music in their lives.”
AN EVENING WITH JUDY COLLINS
Friday, Jan. 12
Maui Arts & Cultural Center
1 Cameron Center Way, Kahului
Photo courtesy JudyCollins.com