READFIELD — Her eyes are still blue, and her singing voice is still as clear and soaring as a cloudless sky. At age 71, Judy Collins continues a constant pursuit of new material, new creative outlets and new causes to champion.

Collins, the folk song icon of the 1960s and the early industry-shaping years of Elektra Records, will perform at Kents Hill School on May 13 as part of a concert series to support the Aleigh Mills Scholarship Fund.

“I was asked to come, so I am,” Collins said during a recent telephone interview. “I’ll do a little bit of everything. Some of the old things. Some of the new things. I’ve been lucky to have made good choices in my career. You might be singing a song for 50 years, so it better be a good one. But I’m always hunting for new songs.”

Most music lovers from the ’60s generation know Collins for her version of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” or Stephen Sondheim’s “Send in the Clowns,” but she released an impressive album, “Paradise,” last year that showcases her continued talent for writing, choosing and interpreting songs.

On the “Paradise” album, Collins harmonizes to Tom Paxton’s song “Last Thing On My Mind,” with Stephen Stills, who made Collins immortal to a generation in the song “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” Joan Baez joins Collins on the album in a fresh recording of Baez’s tribute to Bob Dylan, “Diamonds and Rust.”

“Paradise” also features new material by Amy Speace, a rising artist on Collins’ own Wildflower Records label, called “Weight of the World.”

“ ‘The Weight of the World’ is one of the best anti-war songs I’ve ever heard,” said Collins, when asked about her current views on the state of the world and the music industry. The song is the story of a boy going off to war, told from his sister’s point of view.

“I think greed and arrogance have taken the lead,” said Collins. “When people wake up, we’ll have our own revolution again.”

In the meantime, Collins is enjoying the autonomy of having her own record label and cultivating new artists. She has become a prolific writer, with several books released in the last decade, including a children’s book called “Over the Rainbow” with an accompanying CD.

“My life as an artist now is just as full or even more so than it ever was,” Collins said. “A good deal of my original material came from the Elektra days. The turning point was when I moved to New York and was surrounded with all of these incredibly gifted writers. It was quite a powerful time in my life. But things lately have been amazing. I’ve had a spectacular year.”

Collins referred to her recent album release, international tours and another upcoming memoir, “Sweet Judy Blue Eyes: My Life in Music,” scheduled for release this October. Many of Collins’ previously published books deal with her own struggles with alcohol and bulimia, her son’s suicide and her search for peace.

Since her first album, “A Maid of Constant Sorrow,” in 1961, Collins has maintained a connection to themes of introspection. But now, 50 years later, she seems to have added a strength and confidence to her music that has evolved from delicate innocence to enduring clarity.

Folk song icon of the 1960s Judy Collins will perform on May 13 at Kents Hills School, as part of a concert series supporting the Aleigh Mills Scholarship Fund.

Go and do:

WHAT: Concert by Judy Collins

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, May 13

WHERE: Center for the Performing Arts at Newton Hall at Kents Hill School in Readfield

TICKETS: $75 VIP seating, $55 general admission; available at www.kentshill.org/concertseries

MORE INFO: Contact Mary Anne Pearson at 685-1635 or [email protected]


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