Tuesday November 29, 2016

'I feel like Shirley Collins': the English folk singer returns to music

(Eva Vermandel)

Listen 17:47

"I feel like Shirley Collins again," says the English folk singer on her return to music. Shirley Collins released, Lodestar, her first album in 38 years earlier this month after a long battle with dysphonia. "I couldn't sing even to myself indoors, but I was still learning songs from field recordings and still singing the songs in my head, so they were there all the time but they just couldn't come out," Collins explains.

Collins traveled all through America's deep south collecting music with American folk music field collector Alan Lomax. "He looked like an American bison to me," says Collins on meeting Lomax at a party in London, England, "I loved his Texas drawl." Collins recorded the likes of Mississippi Fred McDowell and says these moments were some of the best in her life.

Shirley Collins

(Eva Vermandel)

"It's wonderful to be one of those old experienced singers who have loved that music all their lives and sung it all their lives," says Collins on finding the courage to write Lodestar. Collins hopes that people recognize that this album is her older voice but it's still her voice.

If there is one thing this former field recorder could pass on, it would be that "you just have to trust the song as you sing it."

WEB EXTRA | Listen to "Cruel Lincoln" from Shirley Collins' album Lodestar.