Basic Folk Podcast: Shirley Collins

HOW. Shirley Collins has led a wild full life! The British folk singer, who helped bring about the 60’s folk revival in Great Britain, is on Basic Folk talking about her new album Heart’s Ease and her entire extraordinary career. Shirley also talks about her childhood, which occurred during World War II and started her love and connection with traditional folk songs. Her grandparents would sing to her and her sister Dolly during air raids to try and keep the girls calm. This watershed moment would define her love of sharing these songs and how it feels for Shirley to sing. She talks about her late sister Dolly, a brilliant musical arranger and frequent collaborator, and how her compositions matched up perfectly with Shirley’s singing.

Shirley was a part of the historical Alan Lomax Southern Journey recordings, where she assisted the folklorist in collecting recordings of traditional folk songs in the American South. A lot of those songs were familiar to Shirley as they came over to America from England hundreds of years ago. She talks about the musicians she met along the way including Mississippi Fred McDowell. After she returned, she sang and recorded music from about 1955 – 1979 and then stopped when she went through a terribly traumatic event and developed dysphonia.

Recently, Shirley has returned to making albums, starting in 2016 with Lodestar and now with her latest just released. She is generous with her answers and is good natured about my ridiculous questions. Also, a very fun lightning round! I can’t wait to have Shirley on again.

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