Major career milestones are often celebrated with a special event. Yet Judy Collins is choosing to approach the 40th anniversary of her recording debut this year the same way she has lived her life --
Major career milestones are often celebrated with a special event. Yet Judy Collins is choosing to approach the 40th anniversary of her recording debut this year the same way she has lived her life -- by simply looking forward and embarking on new musical adventures. "It doesn't feel like it's been that long," she says. "I'm just starting, and the best is yet to come."
Long known for her interpretations of such hits as "Both Sides Now," "Send in the Clowns," and "Someday Soon," Collins hasn't been content to rest on her laurels. In 2000, she launched her own label, Wildflower Records. Distributed by Navarre, Wildflower issued two CDs last fall: the Christmas collection "All on a Wintry Night" and "Live at Wolf Trap," a live recording of her 21st performance at the famed Vienna,Va., venue. The concert aired as a PBS fund-raising special and will be released this fall on VHS and DVD Video.
For fans of Collins' vintage recordings, this summer brings "The Best of Judy Collins," a Rhino retrospective that surveys Collins' 24-year history with Elektra Records. In September, Wildflower will reissue an anniversary pairing of Collins' first two Elektra albums -- "A Maid of Constant Sorrow" and "Golden Apples of the Sun" -- which have been out of print for nearly three decades. The two albums will appear on one CD, to retail for $17.98.
Rhino's Best of Judy Collins will include "Someday Soon," "Both Sides Now," "Open the Door (Song for Judith)," and "Amazing Grace," as well as such Collins compositions as "My Father" and "Since You've Asked."
Along with the hits set, Collins is excited to see the early-'60s titles "A Maid of Constant Sorrow" and "Golden Apples of the Sun" becoming available on CD. Still, she admits to having "issues" with those records. "I know they're important historically," she observes. "But if you listen to my records in sequence from the beginning, you would think the sequence is upside down because my voice is so much improved."
Beyond the reissues and DVD release, Collins has other irons in the fire. Martin Guitars is designing a special-edition Judy Collins guitar with a mother-of-pearl columbine, the Wildflower logo, inlaid on the neck. And she is embarking on her first Wildflower Festival -- a summer tour featuring Janis Ian, Richie Havens, and Roger McGuinn. The outing is already booked for the Los Angeles Amphitheater, the Pier in Seattle, and the Westbury Music Festival in Westbury, N.Y. Collins plans to record a sampler CD of performances from the tour.
"I decided that I wanted to have some fun and do something different, so I put together the Wildflower Festival with some buddies," Collins explains. "There are 20 dates in the books for this summer and 15 more floating around for the autumn."
"We hope to do it next year with a different group of artists," she says, adding that in addition to recording and selling the sampler, she hopes to do a Webcast concert this summer.
Collins seems to revel in the challenges and rewards of operating her own label. "I've always run my own business and done my own productions, but I felt that I wanted to do even more," says the songwriter, who operates her own publishing company and manages herself. Collins also aims to develop new talent.
"That's how I started my career. I recorded Dylan [songs] very early on," she says. "And, of course, I discovered Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, and then I began recording [songs by] Randy Newman and Jimmy Webb. I like to listen and find the people who I think are terrific artists. I have a good time with it."