Shirley Collins

Shirley Collins is a renowned folk singer. She is the president of the English Folk Dance and Song Society in London. Her critically lauded album Lodestar, released in 2016, marked a triumphant return to performance after a thirty-year absence. She is the author of All in the Downs: Reflections on Reflections on Life, Landscape, and Song (Strange Attractor).

  • America Over the Water, Revised And Expanded Edition

    America Over the Water, Revised And Expanded Edition

    A Musical Journey With Alan Lomax

    Shirley Collins

    The chronicle of a year spent discovering the traditional musicians of the American South, including Mississippi Fred McDowell, Muddy Waters, and many others.

    In America Over the Water, celebrated English folksinger Shirley Collins offers an affecting account of her year-long stint as assistant to legendary musical historian and folklorist Alan Lomax. Collins describes a journey both emotional and musical, as she and Lomax work tirelessly to uncover the traditional music of the American South. Together, they traveled to Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Georgia, encountering Mississippi Fred McDowell, Muddy Waters, and many others.

    Collins first met Lomax at a party hosted by English folksinger Ewan MacColl (who later married Peggy Seeger, half-sister of American folksinger and activist Pete Seeger). Collins's chronicle of her year with Lomax, with whom she became romantically involved, recounts the discovery of a world of beauty and dignity in the face of deprivation and prejudice among America's traditional folk and blues musicians.

    • Paperback $19.95 £15.99
  • All in the Downs

    All in the Downs

    Reflections on Life, Landscape, and Song

    Shirley Collins

    A memoir from one of Britain's legendary singers, folklorists, and music historians.

    A legendary singer, folklorist, and music historian, Shirley Collins has been an integral part of the folk-music revival for more than sixty years. In her new memoir, All in the Downs, Collins tells the story of that lifelong relationship with English folksong—a dedication to artistic integrity that has guided her through the triumphs and tragedies of her life.  All in the Downs combines elements of memoir—from her working-class origins in wartime Hastings to the bright lights of the 1950s folk revival in London—alongside reflections on the role traditional music and the English landscape have played in shaping her vision. From formative field recordings made with Alan Lomax in the United States to the “crowning glories” recorded with her sister Dolly on the Sussex Downs, she writes of the obstacles that led to her withdrawal from the spotlight and the redemption of a new artistic flourishing that continues today with her unexpected return to recording in 2016. Through it all, Shirley Collins has been guided and supported by three vital and inseparable loves: traditional English song, the people and landscape of her native Sussex, and an unwavering sense of artistic integrity. All in the Downs pays tribute to these passions, and in doing so, illustrates a way of life as old as England, that has all but vanished from this land.

    Generously illustrated with rare archival material.

    • Paperback $20.95 £16.99