‘Enjoying every second’

LIHUE — As a vocal artist whose career has spanned nearly 50 years, Judy Collins said she feels blessed to have been given many gifts over the years.

One of them, she said, is the ability to give generously and receive. 

“Some people are very good at giving and are very generous, but they don’t receive, and I’ve inherited both of those qualities,” the 75-year-old Grammy Award-winning artist said on Wednesday. “I’ve been open to hearing what was coming at me in the universe, and I think that’s part of what we all have to do.” 

It is also a quality that, she said, makes Hawaii a unique place.

“This is a place of receiving, and receiving beauty here,” said Collins, who will kick off her Hawaii tour tonight at the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center. “It’s a real gift for me to be here, and even though I’m not ‘vacationing,’ I’m here and enjoying every second.”  

The four-day, four-city tour will mark Collins’ fifth trip to Hawaii since 1966, when she and two other folk artists, Mimi Farina and Arlo Guthrie, came to visit after a dozen shows in Japan. 

Though the four-time Grammy nominee is best known for her career in folk music, such as her rendition of “Both Sides, Now” in her 1967 album “Wildflowers,” or “Send in the Clowns” from her 1975 album “Judith,” Collins said she has developed her own consistent style over the years.

“That’s because I have a stamp, I have a style, it is me,” Collins said. “When you say that name, you know what you’re going to hear. You know you’re not going to hear Willie Nelson, who has done it all, too. You have to be brave, you have to be willing to take a chance — if you’re not, then get out of the business because it’s all about taking chances and risking everything.”

Each live performance, she said, serves as “an interpersonal activity between the artist and the audience” — something that, in her own words, has become “kind of a philosophy of mine.” 

“What I take away myself, and what I hope other people do, is a validation of being human, being creative, being energetic, being imaginative, and being able to think about the past as well as move into the future,” Collins said. “Thinking of the past and moving into the future is perhaps the most important and, of course, because we have to be in the moment to do that, you are in the moment at a concert — you are present, which is not very true for many activities that are not live music or live performance.”

The goal, she said, is to invoke some feeling of change. 

“If people don’t come away in some fashion changed, then I have not succeeded,” Collins said. “If I go to a concert and I have not come away in some way inspired, given some piece of insight that I wouldn’t have had otherwise, if I had not been scarred or ambushed in a way emotionally, then there’s something off. I wouldn’t go back.” 

Doors to tonight’s concert at Kauai Community College open at 6:30 pm., and the show, which is sold out, an hour later.

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