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.”