Judy Collins was born in Seattle and her family moved to Denver when she was about ten years old. Her father was a blind singer and piano player, and Judy learned to play the piano and sing at a young age. By her teens, she had added guitar to her repetiteur.
After graduating from high school, Judy began performing folk music at small clubs in the Denver area. She later moved to Connecticut and then to Greenwich Village in New York City. Her first album came out in 1961 and she followed that with a new album almost every year. While she also released singles, none of them produced hits until she covered Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides, Now in 1968. The single reached #8 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It also won the Grammy Award for the Best Folk Performance.
While she did not reach the Top Forty on the Hot 100 very often, she had ten more singles reach the top forty on the Adult Contemporary chart.
Her last hit on the Hot 100 was Send In The Clowns. The song was from the play, A Little Night Music, and Judy’s cover version was released in 1975 and just managed to reach #38. While Judy did not win a Grammy for Send In The Clowns, her performance no doubt helped the song win the Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1976.
The play was turned into a movie in 1977. Even though the film starred Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Rigg, critics and audiences were not too impressed. Elizabeth Taylor sang Send In The Clowns in the film, but Judy’s version was re-released as well and did better the second time around. The single peaked at #19 in 1977 and was popular enough that Judy was invited to perform the song on the Muppet Show. Rather than sing to the muppets, she was backed up while singing by dancing (voguing?) clowns who looked a lot like miming muppets.
Judy has released 27 studio albums during her career including her most recent album in 2019. She received a Grammy Nomination as recently as 2017 for her album Silver Skies Blue.