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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."
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Collins scored another hit with her rendition of the gospel song "Amazing Grace" in the early 1970s. As the decade progressed, Collins's music evolved, taking on more of a pop sound. She enjoyed great success with her version of Stephen Sondheim's "Send in the Clowns" from the 1973 musical A Little Night Music. Her recording of the song hit the charts twice, first in 1975 and then in 1977.
In 1969, Collins made her stage debut appearing in a New York City revival of Peer Gynt with Stacy Keach and Olympia Dukakis. She later made other appearances on television, including guest spots on The Muppet Show and Sesame Street. Working behind the camera, Collins produced and co-directed the 1974 documentary Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman about her former piano teacher. The film received an Academy Award nomination.
Collins also took up writing. In her memoirs Collins has shared her many triumphs and tragedies. She has tackled such difficult topics as her only child's suicide in 1992 and her own battles with alcoholism, drug abuse, and bulimia. Her books include Sanity and Grace: A Journey of Suicide, Survival, and Strength (2006) and Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music (2011). Collins has also penned a novel, 1995's Shameless.
For much of her career, Collins has supported a number of social and political causes. She has been a champion for equal rights for women and civil rights. During the 1960s and 1970s, Collins appeared at numerous protests calling for the end of the Vietnam War. She also helped African Americans register to vote in the South.
Collins was a supporter of the Youth International Party, a liberal political organization founded by Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin. In 1968, Collins went to Chicago to sing in support the party's demonstrations during the Democratic National Convention. Hoffman, Rubin, and several others were arrested for their protest activities. Collins, along with writer Norman Mailer, Reverend Jesse Jackson, fellow folk singer Arlo Guthrie, and others, testified in support of the so-called Chicago Seven during their trial.
In the mid-1990s, Collins turned her attention to the needs of children. She became a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 1995. In her role for UNICEF, Collins has traveled to Vietnam, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Macedonia. She continue to support fundraising efforts for the organization's international programs.
Now in her seventies, Collins continues to pursue her creative passions. She established her own label, Wildflower Records, in 2000 to release her own music and to support the work of the other artists. Through Wildflower, Collins put out 2010's Paradise, which features appearances by Stephen Stills and Joan Baez.
Collins maintains a heavy tour schedule, playing more than 80 dates per year. She is also popular on the lecture circuit, giving talks about mental health issues and suicide prevention.
Judy Collins was married to Peter Taylor from 1958 to 1965. The couple had one child together, a son named Clark. In the late 1960s, she became involved with singer and musician Stephen Stills, and he turned their relationship and breakup into the 1969 song "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes." Collins also dated actor Stacy Keach for a time. She has been married to Louis Nelson since 1996.
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