Judy Collins says social activism remains part of her performance

BY FRED RAMOS

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Music legend Judy Collins will be in McAllen tonight, bringing her message of hope and social activism to fans spanning several generations. Taking center stage will be her support of Dreamers Valley-wide and across the nation.

Collins says her latest song “Dreamers” was meant to highlight the plight of those born in the United States, who are children of illegal immigrants.

“We’re all Dreamers. I can’t imagine that any one of us is not a Dreamer. I mean, we’re all children of immigrants,” said Collins. “I think we’re on the wrong track with our immigration policy. We should all be socially active. We all have an obligation to hold up the ideals of our founding fathers and mothers.”

Collins first became a musical star during the folk music revival of the 1960s, along with other folk music icons such as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Pete Seeger and Joan Baez.

In addition to folk music, Collins is also known for her eclectic taste in recorded music, including pop music, country, rock and roll and Broadway show tunes.

“I’m a musician. I love all forms of music,” said Collins.

She first hit the national stage with her recording, “Both Sides Now” in 1967, written by Joni Mitchell.

Festiva spoke with Collins, by phone, from her New York City home earlier this week. Collins said she will be joined on stage tonight with musical legend Stephen Stills, a founding member of Crosby Still & Nash, who first gained national fame for their performance at 1969’s Woodstock Music Festival. Despite their decades-long friendship, Collins said this concert tour is the first time she will appear with Stills on stage. “We’ll be singing duets. We go on the stage together, we stay on the stage all night” said Collins. “We’ve known each other for 50 years, but we’ve never worked together like this.”

Stills is the author of the folk classic, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” written in Collins’ honor and first performed at Woodstock.

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The song was an attempt by Stills to win Collins back as his girlfriend, after a stormy romance. According to an interview in the Guardian, Stills played the song for her prior to it being released as a single. Collins told the Guardian, “Aterward, we both cried, and then I said: Oh, Stephen, It’s such a beautiful song. But it’s not winning me back.”

Over the years, many artists have performed Collins’ songs. She says she considers it an honor other artists have taken her music to new heights.

“The song rules. I’ve been moved by songs ever since I’ve been a little girl. Music is my passion. Once these songs arrive, they have a mind of their own, they have a destiny of their own. So, I was just lucky others have performed my songs. Why not?”

In the ’60s and ’70s, the singer-songwriter reigned supreme. Poets donning acoustic guitars were idols worshiped by adoring fans who filled the many coffee houses of Greenwich Village in New York.

Collins honed her skills as a wordsmith in the Village. She says she learned the importance lyrics play in the creation of a song.

“Of course the lyrics are important. They’re vital, they carry the message. That’s what a song is all about.”

Collins, 77, keeps up a grueling concert schedule, often performing more than 130 dates a year. The current tour will take her from the Rio Grande Valley to the Netherlands. “I tour a lot. I tour regularly,” said Collins.

She says she expects to expand her music catalog in the future.

“I’ll be writing a lot of new songs, I’ll be singing “Dreamers” at all my concerts. I’ll be singing a lot of new songs, said Collins. “I have a long career ahead, so just keep your eye on me.”

@McAllenPAC

“This land was made by dreamers

And children of those dreamers

We came here for democracy and hope

Now all we have is hope.”

— Judy Collins

“Chestnut brown canary

Ruby throated sparrow

Sing a song, don’t be long

Thrill me to the marrow”

— Stephen Stills

STEPHEN STILLS AND JUDY COLLINS

Fifty years ago, the singer-songwriters met, and their union remains a transformative era for both artists.

WHEN 7:30 p.m. Friday

WHERE McAllen Performing Arts Center, 801 Convention Center Blvd.

COST Tickets start at $75 at ticketmaster.com