Judy Collins was not born on stage. Although the way the folk singer remembers it, she got pretty close to it.
“I made my first appearance on stage when I was three. I sang ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’,” she says. New times by telephone. “But I’ve always been musical. My dad had a radio show for over 30 years, and he sang to me ‘Danny Boy’ and all those Irish songs when I was in the womb. And then I had started studying the piano at age five. ”
After scoring her first paid gig as a musician at 19, she decided to hit the road and barely stopped performing for 60 years. Her latest tour brings her to Parker in Fort Lauderdale on Friday January 14, where she promises to perform all hits like “Both Sides Now” and “Send In the Clowns”, but she is also exceptionally proud to be playing new tracks from his next album, Bewitched, released on February 25.
she recorded Bewitched over two years, starting in 2019 and throughout the pandemic. The album is the 29th of his career, but it’s the first that Collins has written every song on.
Writing songs, she says, is relatively easy for her now, but when Collins first started, it never occurred to her to write her own songs.
“I’ve always written songs ever since Leonard Cohen asked me why I wasn’t.”
In 1961, at the age of 22, she moved to New York City and found herself right in the Greenwich Village folk scene performing songs by young Bob Dylan and Tom Paxton. It was a conversation with another legendary songwriter that ultimately got Collins to take care of herself.
“I’ve always written songs ever since Leonard Cohen asked me why I wasn’t. The first song I wrote was ‘Since You’ve Asked’,” she says.
This track appeared on his 1967 album Wild flowers, with his interpretation of a trio of Cohen’s compositions.
“This first song was written in 1966 when I had already recorded half a dozen albums,” she recalls. “I learned good musical taste from my father when I listened to the songs he put on his radio show. After recording all these great songs from masters like Bob Dylan or Woody Guthrie, something was integrated. But if you want to be creative, you have to go your own way. “
When asked what inspires him to compose, his answer is simple: “Life. You have to sit at the piano, close the door and turn off the phone.
She takes a varied approach to writing, usually coming first with the music, followed by the lyrics. Although sometimes she works backwards.
“In 2016, I wrote a poem every day,” Collins says. “I wrote 365 that year. Maybe six songs came out of all those poems once I took them to the piano to see if they could go somewhere musically.”
Although Collins has written lyrics on topics as diverse as immigration and architecture, she has also served as a muse, most notably for the Crosby, Stills & Nash classic “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”.
Collins lights up when asked about this song.
“It was Stephen Stills’ birthday two days ago. I sent him flowers partly for writing this song,” she says. “You know Stephen and I toured together in 2017. We did 150 shows together, just the two of us for two hours. At the end of each gig we sang ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ together. We didn’t. didn’t do the first verse because Stephen said it was too mean. ”
Collins has had an interesting life, a life that you don’t think would allow his voice to remain as angelic as on his recent live record, Live at City Hall, New York, 2020. So what’s her secret to preserving her vocal agility?
“I sing every day. I try to stay healthy. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke,” says Collins. “Although I’ve done all of these things before, so maybe I’m just lucky.”
Judy Collins. 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14, at Parker, 707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-462-0222; parkerplayhouse.com. Tickets cost $ 37- $ 87 through ticketmaster.com.