Best Known For
A folk-pop singer, Judy Collins rose to fame in the 1960s and 1970s with such hits as "Both Sides Now" and "Send In the Clowns."
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
One of the leading singers of the 1960s and 1970s, Judy Collins was born on May 1, 1939, in Seattle, Washington. She grew up in Denver, Colorado, where she began studying classical piano at an early age. In her teens, Collins turned to folk music. She scored her first commercial hit in 1967 with "Both Sides Now." Now in her seventies, Collins continues to record and perform her music.
"Music is the central force in my life. Fame and fortune have their place, if they can be used to further my own flexibility."
The oldest of five children, Judy Collins spent much of her childhood in Denver, Colorado. There she began studying classical piano with conductor Antonia Brico. At the age of 13, Collins made her debut with a local orchestra. She also performed with school groups and at church.
Her father, a blind radio broadcaster, proved to be a strong influence on Collins. He was a singer and musician as well. As a child Collins was exposed to many American standards, including the timeless songs of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, through her father. She also learned such traditional tunes as "Danny Boy." Years later, Collins credited her father for teaching her how to pick good songs.
As a teenager, Collins went through her own musical revolution. She had been expected to become a classical pianist, but she broke away from her training to follow her passion for folk music, especially the songs of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. Collins soon learned to play the guitar and later began performing in local clubs around 1959.
Living in New York City in the early 1960s, Collins became a fixture in the city's folk scene, performing at famous Greenwich Village venues as the Village Vanguard and the Gaslight. Collins landed a recording deal with Elektra Records in 1961 after the label's president saw her perform. She released her first album, A Maid of Constant Sorrow that same year, which featured several traditional songs.
Known for her clear, crisp soprano voice, Collins had become incorporating more contemporary songs in her recordings by the release of 1964's Judy Collins #3. The album also marks the first time Collins recorded songs written by Bob Dylan. A critical success, the recording received a Grammy nomination.
Collins covered three more Dylan tunes for 1965's Fifth Album, including "Mr. Tambourine Man." She also recorded songs by Phil Ochs and Gordon Lightfoot as well. With a knack for picking songs, Collins also helped boost the musical career of Canadian writer Leonard Cohen with 1966's In My Life. Her version of Cohen's "Suzanne" became a minor hit. Collins also recorded a song by Randy Newman, another up-and-coming singer-songwriter.
While she was a popular live act for years, Collins did not have a commercial hit until the 1967 album Wildflowers. She broke into the top ten of the pop charts with the ballad "Both Sides Now," which was written by Joni Mitchell, a relative unknown at the time. The song proved to be a critical success as well with Collins winning her only Grammy Award for it in 1968. Wildflowers also featured a number of tracks written by Collins herself, showcasing her growing confidence in her own abilities as a songwriter.
profile name: Judy Collins profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Famous Irish-Americans 80 people in this group
United Nations Goodwill Ambassadors are prominent individuals who volunteer to highlight important areas of the U.N.'s work. Actors, athletes, authors and musicians use their celebrity to raise awareness of the issues faced by victims of poverty, famine, and violence worldwide. Goodwill ambassadors make widely publicized visits to the world's most troubled locales, and make appeals on behalf of their people. Here are some of the stars who use their famous names to promote causes close to their hearts.
U.N. Goodwill Ambassadors 38 people in this group
With simply their voices and guitars, folk singers are the unplugged artists who tell our collective stories through their songs. Their music conveys universal truths and, in turbulent times, is often a call to action in the form of protest songs. Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and other legendary folk singers have rallied audiences around historic causes such as the Civil Rights, peace and feminist movements. Here are some of the famous folk singers who were revolutionary through their songs.
Folk Singers and Folk Revolutionaries 30 people in this group