At 76, folk singer Judy Collins still has lots cooking

Patrick Dunn
Special to The Detroit News

Judy Collins has won a Grammy, performed around the world and made numerous hit records, but there's still plenty left on the 76-year-old folk singer's to-do list.

"Getting some lunch today would be a good idea," she laughs when asked what career goals she has yet to achieve. "But I have lots and lots of plans. I have another book in the works. I have two new CDs coming out this year. I have a PBS special. I have a Broadway show I'm working on. I never stop. I can't."

The striking voice that delivered hits like "Both Sides, Now" and "Send In the Clowns" remains astonishingly clear and strong, almost unchanged from Collins' heyday in the late '60s. And the singer maintains a touring schedule as busy as acts decades her junior. Her performance Saturday at the Ark will be one of the 120 shows Collins does yearly around the world.

"My life is a tour," she says.

Between shows, she also finds time to connect directly with her fans by managing her own Facebook page — unlike most musicians, who leave social media maintenance to their publicity teams. Collins said her management originally set up and managed her Facebook, but it didn't take long for that to change.

"When I saw what they were doing with it I said, 'No way! I want to be involved too,' " she says. "I've always had a very strong relationship with my audiences. I've always answered my own fan mail and always tried to connect with the people that I sing for. So it's fun for me. I love it."

Collins also has a strong sense of what keeps herself and her audience happy in the live setting. While she still consistently performs "Both Sides, Now" and her other hits, she peppers her shows with an ever-shifting variety of covers and selections from her back catalog.

"I have a very big advantage because I can push all of the songs around and sing songs from 50 years of working," she says. "It's a lot to choose from. It means that I don't get bored and nobody else should get bored either."

Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.

Judy Collins

8 p.m. Saturday

The Ark

316 S. Main, Ann Arbor

Tickets $49.50-$75

(734) 763-8587