Shirley Collins – You Never Heard So Sweet. 2nd May 2015 St Clements Church.


photograph Katie Vandyck.

Saturday 2nd May 2015
St Clements Church, High Street, Hastings Old Town Doors open at 7:30pm for 8:00pm. Admission £8.00. Shirley’s show based on the field recordings made in Southern England in the 1950s by Peter Kennedy and Bob Copper, with excerpts from those recordings, slides, and contributions from actor Pip Barnes

Shirley Collins – The Ballad Of – Kickstarter project

Thanks to Hastings and Area, Past & Present for finding this.

Shirley Collins is a famous daughter of  Hastings. Shirley and her late sister Dolly were a huge influence on the folk revival of the 1960s and 1970s. This short video launches a kickstarter campaign to raise funds to make a movie about her. It contains scenes of Hastings Jack in the Green, and scenes of Shirley herself on the West Hill. Now aged 78, there has been a recent increase in interest in Shirley. How appropriare it would be if the people of Hastings are among those helping to fund the making of this movie.

Will Cornell…..Everytime I try to talk to about this legendary lady Shirley Collins, my conversation partner usually says “you mean Judy Collins?” No. Shirley…and she has had SOME story! A documentary is a great idea…but a theatrical film bio would be neat too…Dom Flemons surprised me with the news that my dream is coming true of a QueenLatifahasBessieSmith movie…how about this one? Who’d be perfect in the starring role? If she were 40 years younger, Julie Christie would be my pick (see: “Far From the Madding Crowd”–she could sing!). If you want to explore Shirley’s recordings, my pic to start is “The Harvest Years” with her sister Dolly and the late David Munrow’s Early Music Consort of London. Includes the classic “Anthems in Eden” which sends chills up my back each time I hear it. And by the way, Alan Lomax’s best field recordings absolutely WERE the ones Shirley helped with. ”

Jim Breeds….Glad you shared this off of my HAPP page, I should have thought to send it this way too. A great lady – so interesting to see her in this clip sitting on the West Hill with some green daubed on her nose 🙂 I hope the movie gets funded. She was on stage in Dalston last night. Linda Thompson was there and has been talking about it on her Facebook page.


Shirley Collins & The Albion Band

Will Cornell from USA writes

Hey I was looking over that site you contribute to, and did a search for Shirley Collins but there doesn’t appear to be anything there.  Maybe she’s not considered ‘rock’ enough, but she WAS from Hastings apparently and her legacy is  simply HUGE.   I really didn’t know much about her until a few years ago when I got a “Folk Box” on Topic from overseas–it’s a box set of the best Brit/Celt Folk from about the 50s until the late 90s.  She had a few cuts with Davey Johnston (sp?) and Ashley Hutchings  (who she was married to for a while) and I thought her voice sounded a bit “off”.   But then I got some Ashley comps and the more I listened the more I was fascinated.
Then I found out about “Anthems in Eden” and her using David Munrow’s Early Music Consort, and I had to have it since I’ve been collecting whatever I can from his short career.   30 seconds into listening to this CD (it’s part of “The Harvest Years” 2 CD set, and budget priced) I realized this was going to be something special.   And apparently it was.   This was one of those albums like the first Velvet Underground LP where it may have only sold X many copies but everyone who bought it went out and formed a band.   In Fairport Conventions case, it was one of the main influences  that pushed them into creating “Liege and Lief”–their 4th album that really put Brit folk and early music influenced rock and roll, on the map for the first time.  (“Anthems” is extra cool for me personally since it contains absolutely NO guitar at all.  May be the only “ most influential-to-rock-n-roll “ album to make that distinction.)
I was even more surprised to find Shirley was a girlfriend of Alan Lomax when he lived in “exile” in the UK during his suspected “Commie” phase.   When he was allowed back over here without hassle from the FBI, she accompanied him on his recording trips for the Atlantic series of LPs called “Sounds of The South”–which among a great many other things, discovered such artists like Mississippi Fred McDowell.  These albums also were hugely influential.  You can kind of sense what he did in the opening scenes of that movie “Cadillac Records” where the guy playing Lomax records Muddy Waters outside Muddy’s shack down in Mississippi from the trunk of a car.   I don’t think anyone played Shirley in that scene, but then she was part of a trip Lomax took around 10 years after Lomax and his father discovered Muddy.
She may never win any Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recognition (nor will Jackie DeShannon, another rant of mine, so Shirley’s in good company) but as Hastings Sussex musical notables go, I would venture to bet Shirley’s got a huge history to rival no one else.


Will Cornell….Love the hurdy gurdy in the midsection of this tune. One of the cuts that finally pushed me into buying one myself…..

Will Cornell on Fairport Convention….Fairport were performing in the early 70s  at some college campus here in the USA….doing their big beat version of some 16thCentury tune like “Matty Groves” ….some a-hole in the crowd  kept yelling “Boogie” and “Play some rock n Roll!” and Richard Thompson stopped everything and walked up to the mic and said:  “This IS Rock N Roll….British Rock N Roll!”

Will Cornell…the new Blowzabella CD “Strange News” contains not one but two cuts that update songs contained on Shirley Collins’ “Anthems In Eden”, so her influence (esp that LP) continues uninterrupted!