The Ballad of Shirley Collins Now Streaming

FIRE FILMS announce feature documentary THE BALLAD OF SHIRLEY COLLINS about the iconic English singer is now streaming for the first time via Vimeo on Demand, including the first-ever digital release of a host of bonus materials.


  • Audio commentary version of the film with Shirley Collins in discussion with the directors Tim Plester and Rob Curry
  • Featurette telling the story of Shirley’s secret comeback show at the Union Chapel in 2014. Includes the full footage of the show itself.
  • Behind the scenes film exploring the making of the film’s mesmerising reconstruction footage.
  • Field recordings of Sam Amidon and Elle Osborne playing songs they learned from Shirley Collins 

The singer who lost her voice.

Having been an indelible presence in the English folk scene for more than 20 years, Shirley Collins was until recently remembered predominantly for losing her voice in mysterious circumstances in the 1980s. This film explores [ . . . ] the reasons behind this, and documents her brave attempt (at the age of 80) to rediscover her voice and with it her place in the pantheon of musical greats. The film follows Shirley through the recording of her feted comeback album ‘Lodestar’. Alongside this, it explores a story from the other end of her life, when in 1959 she went on the celebrated ‘Southern Journey’ song-collecting trip with her then-lover Alan Lomax. Together they embarked on a road-trip around the Southern USA, where they collected a vital body of American roots music that provided the inspiration for the young Collins to find her own, uniquely English voice. The film is both a celebration of the power of tradition and an inspiring story of triumph over adversity, and an exploration of the enduring flow of cultural exchange between the US & UK.

The film screened at prestigious international festivals including RotterdamCPH:DOX and the London Film Festival, and was released in US and UK cinemas in 2018. Earth Recordings have released both a triple-LP tribute album by a host of artists including Will Oldham, Angel Olsen, Johnny Flynn, Stewart Lee and Ulver, and the soundtrack album for the film, featuring previously unreleased Shirley Collins recordings and songs from the Southern Journey. Directors Rob Curry and Tim Plester have also recently finished a follow-up film, Southern Journey (Revisited) retracing the Southern Journey route in the present day, due for release later in 2020.

Watch this documentary at: The Ballad of Shirley Collins Now Streaming On Demand | Folk Radio

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