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Judy Collins
Judy Collins in 1965
Background information
Birth name Judith Marjorie Collins
Born (1939-05-01) May 1, 1939 (age 82)
Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Origin Denver, Colorado, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
  • actress
Years active 1959–present
Associated acts

Judith Marjorie Collins (born May 1, 1939) is an American singer and songwriter known for her various tastes in the material she records (which has included folk music, show tunes, pop music, rock and roll and standards) and for her social activism.

Collins' debut album A Maid of Constant Sorrow was released in 1961, but it was the lead single from her 1967 album Wildflowers, "Both Sides, Now" — written by Joni Mitchell — that gave Collins international prominence. The single hit the Top 10 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and won Collins her first Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance. She enjoyed further success with her recordings of "Someday Soon", "Chelsea Morning", "Amazing Grace", and "Cook with Honey".

Collins experienced the biggest success of her career with her recording of Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns" from her best-selling 1975 album Judith. The single charted on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in 1975 and then again in 1977, spending 27 non-consecutive weeks on the chart and earning Collins a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, as well as a Grammy Award for Sondheim for Song of the Year.

Personal life

Collins contracted polio at the age of eleven and spent two months in isolation in a hospital. Collins has been married twice. The marriage ended in divorce in 1965.

In 1962, shortly after her debut at Carnegie Hall, Collins was diagnosed with tuberculosis and spent six months recuperating in a sanatorium.

In April 1996, she married designer Louis Nelson, whom she had been seeing since April 1978. They live in Manhattan in New York City.

Awards and recognition

Judy Collins 1968
Collins in 1968

Collins has received four Grammy Award nominations for Best Folk Performance or Folk Recording, one for Best Folk Album and one for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

  • Judy Collins #3 (1964)
  • In My Life (1968)
  • Both Sides, Now (1969) Won
  • Bird on the Wire (1970)
  • Send In The Clowns (1976)
  • Silver Skies Blue (2017)

Other awards

  • Collins was nominated with Jill Godmilow for an Academy Award for the documentary Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman (1975), about her classical piano instructor, conductor Antonia Brico.
  • For her activism and musical abilities, the Americana Music Association presented Collins with the "Spirit of Americana"/Free Speech Lifetime Achievement Award at their 2005 Honors & Awards ceremony.
  • Awarded a Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree from Pratt Institute, May 2009
  • In 2009, Collins received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.
  • Collins' rendition of the song "Amazing Grace" was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant" in 2017.
  • Colorado Women's Hall of Fame.

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