The Ballad of Shirley Collins
A documentary more than three years in the making, Rob Curry and Tim Plester’s new film follows legendary folk singer Shirley Collins as she prepares to release her first album in 40 years. Intertwined with old home movie footage, voice recordings and letters, along with interviews with Collins herself, we are given an intimate and in-depth peek into her fascinating life.
From her childhood in the Sussex countryside, to her months spent travelling America with her then-partner Alan Lomax, the film is chock-full of beautiful imagery of trees and long winding roads, as well as magical music throughout, ranging from Shirley’s own singing, to songs collected on her travels to the Deep South. We are frequently treated to raw footage of Collin’s stunning voice, performing some of England’s most well-loved folk ballads.
It’s so shocking, then, to hear the singer herself explain about the tragedy of losing her voice, after the trauma of seeing her ex-husband’s new woman in the front row of her show, wearing his jumper. She states that she was “heartbroken”, at both the loss of her marriage and her voice, forcing her to give up a career that she loved so much.
But fortunately, the focus is not on the lows, but on the highs of her life. She has more charisma and feistiness now, at 82, than ever before, and maintains the true belief that music is the most important thing. Whilst at times the documentary slows in pace, the passion and devotion that Collins shows for folk music quickly rectifies this, and it’s a joy to see. Ultimately, this is a powerful film about a powerful woman who has had the courage to take back what is rightfully hers, through a successful career in music, and combined with beautiful scenery and a wonderful soundtrack, this documentary will become as loved as she is.
The Ballad of Shirley Collins is released nationwide on 20th October 2017.
Watch the trailer for The Ballad of Shirley Collins here: