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Judy Collins

They say sheer talent will always shine. Judy Collins’ talent, personality and energy still shines brilliantly at the age of 84.

Still touring long after most have retreated to the studio or quiet retirement, Judy has been amazing audiences in the UK over the past few weeks. I caught her show at The Stables music venue at Wavendon on the outskirts of Milton Keynes.

We first saw her live back in the 1970s at the Southbank she was sensational then and no less now.

Judy walked on stage in flowing dress and stiletto heeled boots, toting her usual big 12-string guitar and proceeded to stand for the entire 90- minute show save for a couple of numbers at the piano when she showed her mettle as a classically trained concert pianist.

She didn’t need an autocue to remain word perfect on the songs, some from her latest album Spellbound.

That was a good description of the audience, many of whom I suspect had wondered beforehand what to expect.

Well, we got just what we had experienced 40-odd years ago. The only difference was Judy’s short and white hair style.

As well as music she had the audience chuckling with a few jokes and recollections of her times in the hippy era. Her first album was released in 1961.

She explained that coming to the centre, founded by Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine, was like coming home. She discovered that her godmother had been a Bletchley girl, sadly after her death.

The Stables is just three or four miles from Bletchley Park, now a museum of the wartime codebreaking centre.

Five miles in the opposite direction is the little town of Olney where curate John Newton wrote the words of Amazing Grace in 1779. Judy took the hymn and turned it into a hit record, one of her most successful among a distinguished recording library.

Amazing Grace? It should be Amazing Judy!

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