Judy Collins' 40 year strong stature as one of folk music's top female icons continued into the new millennium with her PBS special Live At Wolf Trap, a concert filmed before a sold out audience in the woods of Virginia. This show was an extension of her role as the first artist to create a "radio only" fundraising special for public radio. The accompanying album was the first release on her Wildflower label.
During the show, Collins took the audience through her own personal journey into our nation's social and musical conscience. Her late 90s autobiography Singing Lessons, featuring a five song CD (with "Amazing Grace" and some new material) was listed on the L.A. Times Bestseller list. She maintains a rigorous 60-80 city concert schedule annually.
At 13, Collins made her public debut performing Mozart's "Concerto for Two Pianos" but it was the music of such artists as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, as well as the traditional songs of the folk revival, that sparked Judy Collins' love of lyrics. She soon moved away from the classical piano and began her lifelong love for the guitar. In 1961, Judy Collins released her first album, A Maid of Constant Sorrow, at the age of 22 and began a thirty-five year association with Jac Holzman and Elektra Records.
As the Sixties grew more rebellious, Judy was drawn to songs by the social poets of the time: Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan. She also worked with some of the best musicians of the era, among them Roger McGuinn, who played guitar on her versions of "Mr. Tambourine Man" and Seeger's "Turn, Turn, Turn." Judy was the first to record the songs of Leonard Cohen and she brought other performers like Randy Newman and Joni Mitchell to widespread public exposure.
Her 1966 album, In My Life, featured a broad mix of material from the Beatles, to Kurt Weill and Bertholt Brecht. She also began playing the piano again, and on her next album Wildflowers, she sang with an orchestra. Today, it's regarded as a turning point in her career, giving Judy her first major single, Mitchell's "Both Sides Now," and earning her first of many Grammy nominations.
In 1972, Collins released Colors of the Day, which to the present remains one of WEA's Top 50 catalogue albums. The album featured Joni Mitchell's "Chelsea Morning," which inspired the naming of President and Hillary Clinton's daughter. Judy's rendition of "Send in the Clowns" (from Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music) earned it a 1975 Grammy for Song of The Year.
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; three years later, she paid homage to her friend Bob Dylan with Judy Sings Dylan: Just Like A Woman.
In 1995, Collins became a UNICEF Special Representative for the Arts. In this capacity, she has made several visits to the former Yugoslavia and Vietnam. In May of 1999 Judy participated in the opening ceremonies of the 100th Anniversary of the Hague Peace Conference. In 1997, the long awaited collection Forever: The Judy Collins Anthology was released.