“Collins’ reappearance is remarkable in itself; more remarkable still is that she seems to have re-emerged with her powers undimmed.”– The Guardian
Shirley Collins – legendary folk singer and one of England’s most respected song collectors – has performed just a handful of shows after a 38 year hiatus, we are delighted to host her at Supersonic this year.
Born in Hastings in 1935, Shirley was fascinated by folk songs as she was growing up, songs she heard on the radio or sung by her grandparents in Anderson shelters. She left home for London to immerse herself in the burgeoning folk scene; at a party held by Ewan MacColl she met Alan Lomax, and in 1959 she joined him in the USA on the renowned field trip ‘Southern Journey’, recording American folk songs and blues, a formative journey for her personally and professionally.
On her return to England, Shirley cemented her role at the forefront of the Folk Revival, recording over a dozen albums including the influential Folk Roots, New Routes with avant-garde guitarist Davy Graham, and No Roses, from which The Albion Country Band was formed. However, in the 1980s, Shirley lost her singing voice – later diagnosed as a form of dysphonia – and withdrew from performing live. It was only in 2014, after coaxing from David Tibet (Current 93), that Shirley sang in public for the first time since 1982.
Though Shirley Collins (MBE) has been absent from the music scene for many years, her impact has not diminished, and the likes of Stewart Lee and Angel Olsen laud her.