Colorado Music Hall of Fame Inductee
Hall of Fame Exhibit Board
Judy Collins, Glenn Miller, Paul Whiteman and John Denver are undoubtedly the four most prominent recording artists to emerge directly out of Colorado. Judy Collins reigns supreme with a singing and composing career that spans five decades. Judy was recently inducted into the Colorado Hall of Fame (2013) along with folk singer Bob Lind, The Serendipity Singers, and Chris Daniels of Magic Music, The Freddi-Henchi Band, and later with Spoons.
Judy was born in the northwest (Seattle) and moved on at a very young age to Los Angeles where her father – Cfound work after his radio show dissolved in Seattle, Washington.
Judy’s father Chuck (who became totally blind at age 4) was a huge influence on her musically (and of course in many other ways) especially in regards to her exposure to classical piano. Judy was the first-born in the Collins family and was followed by three brothers in succession and then finally a “baby sister”. The family came to Denver in in the late 1940’s when Judy’s father accepted a job working for Lloyd King – the owner of what would become one of the first super market chains – King Soopers. Frank’s new job was hosting a radio show promoting the King business – interviewing and performing on local radio. Judy’s father struggled severely with alcohol – an affliction which would be shared by Judy as well for many years of her life.
The Collins family first resided in extreme east Denver on Willow Street and later moved to a house on Oneida and finally to a residence on Emerson Street. Judy progressed as a very young pianist prodigy well into her high school years (she attended East High in Denver). Her destiny seemed to certainly be one as a classical musician, but then in the late 1950’s Judy was completely taken in by pure forms of folk music and cites a song by pop singer Jo Stafford, “Barbara Allen” as a song that “would change my life”. She would inform her classical music mentor in Denver that she was more interested in folk music and took up the guitar embarking on what would be her life’s passion.
Judy would perform at Sportsland Valley near Winter Park after her Sophomore year at East and continue the following summer. She met and formed a friendship with black local folk singer Walt Conley who recorded for Band Box Records. After graduation she worked at the Lemon Lodge in Grand Lake – cleaning rooms and singing for guests. She and her husband-to-be worked in Estes Park in 1958 running Fern Lake Lodge where she performed informally when time permitted among all her other duties.
Judy first serious attempt at performing folk came in Boulder, Colorado auditioning at Michael’s Pub, a college spot near the CU campus. Then in 1959 she took a gig at Central City’s Guilded Garter – where Robert Zimmerman (Bob Dylan) would one day perform. In the fall of 1959 Judy began singing at Denver’s folk shop The Exodus as well as continuing on at Michael’s Pub in Boulder. Her husband Peter next took a fellowship in Chicago, and Judy departed Colorado. She would return often – as she continues to this day.
Her memories are elegantly shared in her book “Singing Lessons” a reflection on her life and the loss of her son Clark to suicide. I highly recommend any affected by a suicide to read Judy’s healing account of her life.Judy Collins, Glen Miller and John Denver are undoubtedly the three most prominent recording artists to emerge directly out of Colorado. Judy Collins reigns supreme with a singing and composing career that spans five decades. Judy was recently inducted into the Colorado Hall of Fame (2013) along with folk singer Bob Lind, The Serendipity Singers, and Chris Daniels of Magic Music, The Freddi-Henchi Band, and later with Spoons.