Send in the Collins

Judy Collins 20 (c) Mireya Acierto

The singer, like the venue itself, is an American classic—and one without whom New York City just wouldn’t feel the same. This week, Judy Collins, our touchstone of folksy soul and plainspoken spark, is bringing her unique artistry back to Café Carlyle. Collins, who has captivated audiences for over 50 years, has even landed a spot in the Grammy Hall of Fame. She was once praised by Stephen Holden of The New York Times for evoking “the kind of ethereal, far-sighted reflection that is her special artistic territory.” This past Tuesday night, the singer kicked off her two-week solo engagement at Café Carlyle, which will run through May 16.

Collins has inspired audiences with sublime vocals, boldly vulnerable songwriting, personal life triumphs, and a firm commitment to social activism. In the 1960s, she evoked both the idealism and steely determination of a generation united against social and environmental injustices. Five decades later, her luminescent presence shines brightly as new generations bask in the glow of her iconic 50-album body of work, and heed inspiration from a spiritual discipline that’s allowed her to thrive in the music industry for half a century.

The award-winning singer-songwriter is esteemed for her imaginative interpretations of traditional and contemporary folk standards and her own poetically poignant original compositions. Her stunning rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” from her landmark 1967 album, Wildflowers, has been entered into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Judy’s dreamy and sweetly intimate version of “Send in the Clowns,” a ballad written by Stephen Sondheim for the Broadway musical A Little Night Music, won Song of the Year at the 1975 Grammy Awards. She’s garnered several top-ten hits and gold- and platinum-selling albums. Recently, contemporary and classic artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Shawn Colvin, Arlo Gutherie, Joan Baez, and Leonard Cohen honored her legacy with the album Born to the Breed: A Tribute to Judy Collins.

Make no mistake—Collins, now 75, is as creatively vigorous as ever: writing, touring worldwide, and nurturing fresh talent. She is a modern-day Renaissance woman who is also an accomplished painter, filmmaker, record-label head, musical mentor, and in-demand keynote speaker for mental health and suicide prevention. She continues to create music of hope and healing that lights up the world and speaks to the heart. For proof, look no further than her latest engagement at Café Carlyle. Performances are taking place Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:45 p.m. (there is no show on Saturday, May 9). Reservations can be made by calling 212.744.1600 or by booking online at Café Carlyle is located in The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel (35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue).

Photograph: Mireya Acierto