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Judy Collins takes flight with "White Bird" album

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Thursday, May 6, 2021

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Judy Collins was not familiar with the It's a Beautiful Day hit "White Bird" when her record company chief suggested it for her new album. But she liked it enough to not only record it but also make it the title track of the set.

I didn't know that group," Collins, 81, acknowledges by phone. "It was so good I decided I had to sing it, and it let me sing a duet with myself, which I love. It's very appealing and melodic, sort of transformative.

So I had fun with that, and then we went from there."

As the subtitle of the "White Brid" album, "Anthology of Favorites," suggests, Collins is dipping into her lengthy musical history this time out. The 11-track collection, due out Friday, May 7, blends new recordings with previously released material and revisits collaborations with pals such as Stephen Stills, Joan Baez and Willie Nelson.

"Choosing the songs was a great deal of fun, looking at the kind of songs I wanted people to have access to again," notes the Grammy Award winner, best-known for definitive hit renditions of had hits with Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" and Leonard Cohen's "Chelsea Morning," among others. "I had to choose songs I felt good about and that I felt had a lot of attention from my fans at the time but they might have forgotten what things were like when I sang these. It's a generous collection, I think, of things I've recorded and things that I love, that really stood up over time.

"And I always chose songs that are great. That's part of the challenge is to be careful what to record -- you may have to sing it for 60 years!"

Collins isn't only resting on these past laurels, however. She's found the time in pandemic quarantine to be "very productive" and in fact has an album of new compositions, titled "Resistance and Beauty," ready and also slated for release this year. It will include her song "Dreamers" about immigrants and the DACA issue, but despite the title Collins says "Resistance and Beauty" is not necessarily a topical alum.

"They're not protest songs in any way," she says. "'Dreamers,' yes, but otherwise they're songs about a great many things. Basically, art is the key to everything. We can get through life if we have art in our lives. Music and painting and singing, anything that's artistic will be helpful.

"So I just hope to keep writing songs and keep writing books. I hope that I can keep the poetry coming so that the songs will come. I've got a daily routine of pretty much writing something, whether it's a poem or a chapter that might be part of a book. Whatever it is, I have to keep it going."

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