SPIR­ITS

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - IS­LAND BEAT -

so I think we’ve done a lot of things on the al­bum that we’re happy with.”

Other themes ad­dressed on “Sil­ver Skies Blue” in­clude a po­lit­i­cal/so­cial song, “Elena,” a track about the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate called “Run,” and a piece about hope ti­tled, “I Choose Love.”

“We cov­ered a lot of different ar­eas,” Collins says.

The new al­bum comes on the heels of her 2015 com­pi­la­tion, “Strangers Again,” which be­came her high­est chart­ing al­bum on the Bill­board 200 in decades and de­buted at No. 1 on Ama­zon’s Mu­sic Chart. Hest recorded the ti­tle song with Collins on that al­bum as well.

“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.

In ad­di­tion to up­com­ing shows on Kauai, Maui and Oahu, Collins and Hest will per­form at 7 p.m. Jan. 28 on the Big Is­land at the Honokaa Peo­ple’s The­atre.

“We have a very strong au­di­ence in Hawaii, and I’ve been there a num­ber of times over the years,” Collins says. “Ev­ery time I come back I think, ‘Oh boy, I should be here more of­ten.’”

For their Hawaii Is­land show, Collins and Hest will per­form songs from “Strangers Again” and “Sil­ver Skies Blue,” but they also will show­case some of their in­di­vid­ual clas­sics.

Now 77, Collins is still writ­ing new songs, tour­ing world­wide per­form­ing more than 100 shows a year, and nur­tur­ing fresh tal­ent.

She has ap­peared on TV shows, in­clud­ing “Sesame Street” and HBO’s “Girls,” per­formed at a pres­i­den­tial in­au­gu­ra­tion and re­leased two live DVD/CD spe­cials in the past four years, which were broad­cast on PBS.

Collins also is an ac­com­plished painter, film­maker, record la­bel ex­ec­u­tive, mu­si­cal men­tor and key­note speaker for men­tal health and sui­cide preven­tion.

Hest first met Collins when he was the open­ing act at a fes­ti­val in 2012 where she was the head­liner. Af­ter that first meet­ing, Hest was asked to open more shows for Collins.

His own list of mu­si­cal cred­its in­cludes eight solo al­bums and three EPs, and he is a mem­ber of three different bands.

“I love har­mo­niz­ing with Judy,” Hest says of their col­lab­o­ra­tions. “We have voices that pair very well. It’s not al­ways the case when you sing with some­one.”

Hest says Collins’ voice is as great as ever and her fans can rely on that. And while his own mu­sic spans different gen­res, he ap­pre­ci­ates the depth of folk mu­sic.

“Great folk songs tell un­de­ni­ably in­ter­est­ing sto­ries about the hu­man con­di­tion,” Hest says. “What I have learned from folk mu­sic is the power of a great story set to a raw sound.

“On the road, Judy al­ways has sto­ries to share that draw you in. It is re­mark­able how much she has ac­com­plished, not only in the mu­sic world but also in her char­i­ta­ble pursuits. I have a lot to learn from her.”

Theirs is a mu­tual ap­pre­ci­a­tion for each other, and Collins says Hest has a glo­ri­ous voice with an ear for good writ­ing.

“His style is very com­ple­men­tary to my own and my ideas about what mu­sic ought to be,” Collins says. “There is some­thing very clean and clas­sic about his song­writ­ing and his singing. There is a kind of flu­id­ity in his writ­ing that I like a lot.”

Collins says she al­ways has tried to find and pro­mote tal­ented peo­ple and won­der­ful songs.

“It started in the very be­gin­ning of my ca­reer when I started record­ing the singer-song­writ­ers in (Greenwich) Vil­lage — ev­ery­body from (Bob) Dy­lan to Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell … even (Stephen) Sond­heim,” she says.

Her 50-year friend­ship with Cohen was kind of an “in­ter­faced dance,” she says.

“He came to see me with his songs in 1966 be­cause I was fin­ish­ing up an al­bum called, ‘In My Life,’ and I said, ‘My God, these are in­cred­i­ble songs,’” Collins re­calls. “It was re­ally be­ing in the right place at the right time and they were the right songs for that al­bum, and I was the right singer … and Leonard never let the world for­get that, which was very nice. That’s not al­ways the case.”

Collins says cer­tain artists and writ­ers have very strong re­la­tion­ships, such as the one she had with Cohen. In turn, he also was an im­por­tant part of her ca­reer.

“He asked me why I wasn’t writ­ing my own songs,” Collins says. “I was just telling Ari at lunch to­day that if Leonard had not asked me why I was not writ­ing my own songs, I wouldn’t be here do­ing this. Leonard started this whole thing with me — this whole other part of my ca­reer. And I’ve just writ­ten a bunch of new songs my­self!”

This is her job, she says, as an artist. But the se­cret of her suc­cess is that she’s kept at it.

Collins has long been es­teemed for her imag­i­na­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tions of tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary folk stan­dards and her own poignant orig­i­nal com­po­si­tions.

Her ren­di­tion of Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” from her land­mark 1967 al­bum, “Wild­flow­ers,” was en­tered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Through the years, she’s gar­nered sev­eral top 10 hits and gold- and plat­inum-sell­ing al­bums.

“You keep do­ing what you’re do­ing and you keep re­fin­ing it and you keep on your own path with your own ideas of what’s right for you,” Collins says. “You don’t lis­ten to other peo­ple who tell you, ‘You’ll go far if you do xyz.’ You try to fig­ure out what it is that you want to do and stick with it. Evo­lu­tion hap­pens one drop at a time, one song at a time.”

Collins’ mu­si­cal jour­ney started at a young age. She stud­ied clas­si­cal piano and played with the sym­phony when she was just 13. Her fa­ther was a singer-song­writer and a live per­former who also had a 30-year ca­reer in the ra­dio busi­ness.

“So, I knew a great deal about mu­sic,” Collins says. “I’d sung in mu­si­cals, op­eras and cho­ruses … I’d done all kinds of things.”

When she was 15, Collins was lis­ten­ing to the ra­dio one day.

“I had no clue what folk mu­sic was re­ally, although I’d grown up lis­ten­ing to ‘Danny Boy,’” she re­calls. “But I heard ‘Gypsy Rover’ and ‘Barbara Allen’ and those two songs changed my life. They were re­ally the turn­ing point for me mu­si­cally and from then on it was my pre-des­tined route.”

The folk mu­sic genre is made up of many different gen­res, she ex­plains. “You can’t re­ally call it ‘folk mu­sic.’ You have to elab­o­rate on that be­cause it’s art song, it’s tra­di­tional song, it’s the­atri­cal, it’s dra­matic, it’s sim­ple and it’s com­pli­cated.

“Sto­ries are mem­o­rable or they’re not, but it’s an axis that came into fash­ion, I think, be­cause the scale had to tip from huge or­ches­tras that were enor­mously com­pli­cated into a sim­pli­fied gui­tar and voice and a story with a beau­ti­ful lyric and melody.”

At the start of Collins’ ca­reer, they were call­ing it the sec­ond re­vival of folk mu­sic, she says.

“It hap­pened for a lot of different rea­sons and I think they were so­cial and po­lit­i­cal, pushed by the needs of the time and by peo­ple who needed to get out on their own and tell a story.”

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