One of the most important voices in British Folk, silenced for years by illness, singer and song collector Shirley Collins performs music from and inspired by her first release in nearly 40 years, Lodestar, alongside visuals by Nick Abrahams. Before Shirley takes to the stage, special guest musicians and dancers including Alasdair Roberts, John Kirkpatrick, Graham Coxon, Lisa Knapp, Olivia Chaney, the Brighton Morris Men and Boss Morris will pay homage to the vocalist, referencing not just her back catalogue, but the Folk songs and traditions that she holds dear.
Bringing together English, American and Cajun songs dating from the 16th Century to the 1950s, collected by Collins and recorded at her own home, her expressive vocals transcend time and genre, connecting you with age-old tradition while still sounding contemporary. As comedian Stewart Lee puts it in his liner notes for the new album, her voice has the power to ‘directly channel the listener to the words and music, reconnecting traditional tunes with the strange worlds they emerged from’.
Despite being a key part of the British Folk revival of the 60s and 70s – accompanying Alan Lomax on his renowned ‘Southern Journey’ trip recording songs through the American South, and working with everyone from Folk-rock group Pentangle to avant-garde guitarist Davey Graham, Shirley Collins was nearly lost to obscurity, when an illness in the 80s made it impossible for her to sing. Finally encouraged back to sing by David Tibet (Current 93) in 2014, her voice is still as completely captivating now as it was then – with the same sense simplicity and sensitivity as on her earlier recordings, but now with a new layer of weight and gravitas. Lodestar shows that, even at the age of 81, Collins is still pushing the boundaries of what can be done with Folk music.
‘Shirley is a time traveller, a conduit for essential human aches, one of the greatest artists who ever lived, and yet utterly humble’ Stewart Lee