Among the top vocalists of the 1960s and 1970s, Judy Collins was born on May 1, 1939, in Seattle, Washington. She grew up in Denver, Colorado, where she started studying classical piano for a very young age. In her teens, Collins turned to folk music.
The oldest of five kids, Judy Collins spent much of her youth in Denver, Colorado. There she started studying classical piano with conductor Antonia Brico. In the age of 13, Collins made her debut using an area orchestra. She also performed with school groups and at church.
Her dad, a blind radio broadcaster, proved to be a powerful influence on Collins. He was a vocalist and musician at the same time. As a kid Collins was exposed to numerous American standards, for instance, classic tunes of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, through her dad. She also learned such traditional tunes as “Danny Boy.” Years after, Collins credited her dad for teaching her how to pick great tunes.
As a teen, Collins went through her own musical revolution. Collins shortly learned to play the guitar and after started performing in local clubs around 1959.
Residing in Nyc in the early 1960s, Collins became a regular in the town ‘s folk scene, performing at famed Greenwich Village places as the Village Vanguard as well as the Gaslight.
Known for her clear, sharp soprano voice, Collins had become featuring more modern tunes in her records by the release of 1964’s Judy Collins #3. The record also marks the very first time Collins recorded tunes composed by Bob Dylan. An essential success, the record received a Grammy nomination.
Having a talent for picking tunes, Collins also helped foster the musical profession of Canadian writer Leonard Cohen with 1966’s In My Life. Her version of Cohen’s “Suzanne” became a modest hit. Collins also recorded a song by Randy Newman, another up and coming singer songwriter.
While she was a popular live act for a long time, Collins didn’t have a advertisement hit until the 1967 record Wildflowers. She broke to the top ten of the pop charts with all the ballad “Both Sides Now,” which was composed by Joni Mitchell, a relative unknown at that time. The song proved to be an essential success as well with Collins winning her a Grammy Award for this in 1968. Wildflowers also featured several tracks composed by Collins herself, showcasing her growing trust in her very own skills as a songwriter.
Collins scored another hit with her performance of the gospel tune “Amazing Grace” in the early 1970s. As the decade advanced, Collins’s music evolved, taking on more of a pop sound. Her record of the song reach the charts twice, first in 1975 and then in 1977.
In 1969, Collins made her stage debut appearing in a Nyc resurrection of Peer Gynt with Stacy Keach and Olympia Dukakis. The movie received an Academy Award nomination.
Collins also took up composing. In her memoirs Collins has discussed her many successes and disasters. She’s handled such challenging issues as her only child’s suicide in 1992 and her very own struggles with alcoholism, drug abuse, and bulimia. Collins has additionally written a novel, 1995’s Shameless.
For much of her career, Collins has supported numerous societal and political causes. She’s been a champion for equal rights for girls and civil rights. During the 1960s and 1970s, Collins appeared at numerous demonstrations calling for the conclusion of the Vietnam War.
In 1968, Collins went to Chicago to sing in support the party’s protests throughout the Democratic National Convention. Hoffman, Rubin, and many others were detained because of their demonstration actions. Collins, as well as writer Norman Mailer, Reverend Jesse Jackson, fellow folk singer Arlo Guthrie, among others, testified in support of the so called Chicago Seven during their trial.
In the mid-1990s, Collins turned her focus on the wants of kids. She became a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 1995. In her job for UNICEF, Collins has traveled to Vietnam, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Macedonia. She continue to support fundraising efforts for the organization’s international plans.
Now in her seventies, Collins continues to pursue her creative fires.
Collins keeps a significant tour schedule, playing more than 80 dates annually. She’s also popular on the lecture circuit, giving talks about mental health problems and suicide prevention.
The couple had one child together, a son named Clark. In the late 1960s, she became involved with vocalist and musician Stephen Stills, and he turned their relationship and break up to the 1969 song “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” Collins also dated actor Stacy Keach to get a period. She’s been married to Louis Nelson since 1996.