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The Ballad of Shirley Collins — an English folk singer celebrated

The Ballad of Shirley Collins — an English folk singer celebrated

April 16
09:04 2018
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Directed by Rob Curry and Tim Plester, 2017

Earth Recordings

A key figure in the English folk revival, Shirley Collins lost her voice to dysphonia in 1980.

Now in her eighties and singing again, she is a serene, smiling presence in this documentary, which revisits her past not just as singer but also as the former partner of American folklorist Alan Lomax (though here the film falls prey to the fetish for reconstruction, with grainy “footage” of a song-gathering road trip to accompany authentic archive audio).

We see and hear Collins singing again in a manner that, typically, forefronts the song rather than the singer; her voice is deeper now, with a touching frailty. It’s not just Collins who is celebrated, but her Englishness, in particular her home county of Sussex, with its soft accent, rolling hills and strange rituals.

★★★☆☆



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