Send in Judy Collins

  • Bryan Ledgard / Contributed photo

In 2017, Judy Collins performed 150 shows.

She was nominated for a Grammy.

She wrote songs.

Turned out a new CD.

Worked on another book.

Yeah, that’s a list of achievements that demands equal parts energy and enthusiasm, passion and commitment.

Judy Collins has more than her fair share of all of those.

Judy Collins, we should mention, is 78 years old.

“I’ve had a very busy year,” she said, laughing. “It’s been very exciting.”

The woman whose musical career started more than five decades ago is having far too much fun. Her Christmas gathering with family included music, of course, and lots of laughter and storytelling.

“It was divine,” she said.

The singer/songwriter, famous for hits like “Both Sides Now” and “Send in the Clowns,” will be touring the Hawaiian Islands in January and will be opening on Kauai. Her show here is set for Jan. 11 at the Kauai Beach Resort.

“I love being there. It’s a real treat for me,” she said. “I have wonderful, intense fans around the islands.”

Her schedule in Hawaii is demanding. The days following Kauai’s concert, she performs on Maui, then the Big Island, and then Oahu.

For those keeping score, that’s four concerts in four days. No rest days. And she doesn’t just play. She talks story with the audience. She shares her life. She weaves a connection between the stage and seats.

In case you think she must be slowing down, forget it. Next year’s tour dates are being scheduled, new CDs and songs are in the works and another book is likely, too.

How does she do it?

“I stay healthy. That’s really the secret to the whole thing,” she said in a phone interview with The Garden Island.

She recently united with musician Stephen Stills, an old boyfriend, on the album, “Everybody Knows,” a mix of new and old songs.

Stills wrote the hit, “Suite: Judy Blues Eyes” after their breakup.

Collins loves playing music with Stills again. They plan to tour in the U.S. and Europe next year, starting in May.

“I was thrilled Stephen still wanted to work with me,” she said. “We always have a swell time together.”

Her 10th and newest book, a memoir, is titled, “Cravings: How I Conquered Food.”

“If you want to know how I do this, read that book,” she said. “That book contains the silver lining.”

It shares her struggles with alcohol, overcoming eating disorders and how she is so fit today thanks to a diet of no sugar, flour and corn.

While everyone else was enjoying a Christmas feast of pie, potatoes, gravy and rolls, Collins had four ounces of turkey, brussel sprouts and two cups of salad. That’s it.

She’s strict about three meals a day. When it comes to diet, numbers count.

“Everybody had all the things I don’t eat,” she said.

And there’s a commitment to exercise, which includes using a stationary bike or treadmill when home, and running in her hotel room for 45 minutes while watching the news.

“It used to be Charlie Rose,” she said. “Now, it’s not.”

She not wild about just running. Or just watching TV. So she combines them. Just another example of utilizing her time well. You won’t find many wasted minutes in the day of Judy Collins. Again, numbers count.

“That’s one of my tricks,” she said.


Collins has authored several books, including “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music,” which recalls her turbulent childhood, rise to fame, her romance with Stills, victories over depression and alcoholism, and her redemption through embracing a healthy and stable lifestyle and finding true love with Louis Nelson, her partner of 30 years.

Her book, “Sanity and Grace: A Journey of Suicide, Survival, and Strength,” recounts the loss of her son, Clark, who committed suicide in 1992 when he was 33 years old. Collins has become a in-demand keynote speaker for mental health and suicide prevention.

“She continues to create music of hope and healing that lights up the world and speaks to the heart,” a release said.

Musical career

Judy Collins began her music career at 13 as a piano prodigy. She had a feeling, growing up, she would be a late bloomer.

“What gave me that idea, I don’t know,” she said.

She was right.

In 1961, she released her debut, “A Maid of Constant Sorrow,” which featured interpretative works of social poets of the time such as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and Tom Paxton.

She has some 50 albums to her credit, including her landmark 1967 album, “Wildflowers,” which was entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

She’s garnered several top-10- hits gold and platinum selling albums.

Another release, “Strangers Again,” is a collection of duets with some of her favorite male artists, including Don Mclean, Michael McDonald, Jeff Bridges, Willie Nelson and Jackson Browne.

“These are guys that I adore and respect,” she said. “I have dreamed of playing with them.”

Collins and Ari Hest teamed up on the 12-song album, “Silver Skies Blue,” which came out last year and landed a Grammy Award nomination for Best Folk Album.

It was Collins’ first nomination in 40 years.

She met Hest five years ago. Working with him, she said, has been like “a whole new career.”

Collins laughed when she mentioned she has the record for longest time between Grammy nominations.

“They finally remembered me,” she said.


She’s been touring since 1959 and believes that’s where she is at her best — on the stage, playing, talking, connecting with audiences, which she believes she has done consistently.

She loves to tell a few jokes and is not afraid to share her personal life. She does a lot of storytelling, which she said is “terrible important for texture.”

“I’m a storyteller at heart,” she said.

The life of an artist, she said, is far more than about making money. It’s about living with passion.

“I love what I do,” she said.

Collins continues to work at improving at her craft and her health. She is a painter, filmmaker, record label head, musical mentor. She wants to write more. More songs. More prose. More books.

“I try to consolidate all the things that DNA has given me, what good luck and good fortune, have given to me,” she said. “So many blessings and wonderful gifts that have come my way.”

They’re still coming.

Her show at the Kauai Beach Resort is at 7 p.m., doors open at 6. Tickets are $45 and $65. It will be a mix of her classic hits everyone knows and loves, and new songs.

“I’m blessed to be able to do this and come back to my wonderful audience,” she said.

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