Desert Island Discs – Shirley Collins, folk singer – BBC Sounds


Shirley Collins, folk singer, shares the soundtrack of her life with Lauren Laverne.

Shirley Collins first enjoyed success as one of the leading figures in the British folk revival of the 1960s. She initially performed with her sister, Dolly Collins, and also collaborated with other folk luminaries to create some of the era’s most beloved albums.

In the past decade she has made an acclaimed return to the concert stage and the recording studio. Shirley was born in Sussex in 1935. She can still recall how her grandfather used to sing folk songs to comfort her while they were sheltering during German air raids in the early 1940s.

Alongside her career as a singer, in the 1950s she travelled to the American South with Alan Lomax, where they made field recordings of blues and folk musicians, helping to create a significant archive.

Later in her performing career, Shirley found that she could no longer sing, following a distressing betrayal in her private life. She stepped away from music and was silent for many years, taking on other work, including a stint in a job centre Then, in her 80s, she found her voice again.

In 2016 she released her first new album after a gap of almost four decades, and she has since released two more albums. Shirley lives in Sussex, not far from her childhood home. Presenter Lauren Laverne Producer Sarah Taylor

LISTEN at  Desert Island Discs – Shirley Collins, folk singer – BBC Sounds

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