Irish American Writers & Artists, Inc., (IAW&A) has announced that Judy Collins, the legendary singer, activist, author, and 1960s icon will be the recipient of the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award for 2012.
Co-founder and president of the group T.J. English said, “Few American artists have sustained a career in popular music that is as exceptional and iconic as Judy Collins.
“Beginning in the early 1960s, with her role in the emergence of the folk music phenomenon, and through the rock ‘n roll explosion and cultural upheavals of the late-60s and early-70s, Judy’s pristine voice and beautiful songs gave clarity and hope to an entire generation. She has maintained that same level of artistry ever since.”
With a career that has spanned five decades, Collins recorded and performed music with the greatest singers of her era, everyone from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez to Joni Mitchell and, more recently, Irish tenor Ronan Tynan. Along with performing her own songs, she has brought her inimitable style to classics by the Beatles, Leonard Cohen and Dylan. Some of her best-known renditions, including “Both Sides Now,” “Amazing Grace” and “Send in the Clowns,” have been Top 40 hits.
She has recorded 38 albums and won numerous music awards, including two Grammys. She is also an author of five books – three memoirs, a self-help book, and a novel. In 1975, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her co-direction of a feature-length documentary about her classical piano instructor.
Upon being informed of her selection for the award, Collins said, “I am thrilled and honored to be given this wonderful award named after the great Eugene O’Neill. I have always believed that, in my heart, I am first and foremost a storyteller descended from a long line of Irish storytellers and balladeers. It is a great tribute to be mentioned alongside O’Neill; I will gladly be there to accept the award.”
Malachy McCourt, actor, author, IAW&A co-director, and a personal friend of Collins’ since the late-1960s, said “Judy sings like an angel but has the strength of an iron worker. Her career has been like a beacon of light, even though – as befalls us all over a full life – she has known tragedy and despair.”
The Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award was established in 2009 to honor the accomplishments of a writer, actor, musician, or cultural institution that has sustained a body of work that best exemplifies the level of integrity maintained by O’Neill.
The inaugural recipient was Pulitzer-prize winning author William Kennedy. The other recipients have been actor Brian Dennehy, and the co-founders of New York’s Irish Repertory Theatre, Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly.
The award, created by Tiffany & Co., will be presented Mon, Oct.15, 2012 at a reception and ceremony to be held at the Manhattan Club above Rosie O’Grady’s in Times Square, just a few blocks from where Eugene O’Neill was born. Ticketing information will be available soon at the IAW&A website.
For more information on the IAW&A, visit the organization’s website.
Here’s Judy Collins singing “Both Sides Now”: