As many of you who follow Folk Radio will know Shirley Collins’ 80th Birthday has attracted a number of celebrations, the most recent being ‘All in the Downs’, a day-long event that was held at the Southbank Centre, London on July 5th. It was a joyous event with many magical high-points. As Shirley said: “Thank you one and all…… my best birthday present ever !”
For those that were unable to be there, Fledg’ling Records have copies of the special souvenir programme available, one of which arrived through the Folk Radio UK letterbox recently. In short it is a thing of great beauty, one to cherish as Fledgling Records have done a fantastic job. It is printed in full colour on fine paper with four panel cover. The limited edition 44 page book includes an essay by Shirley’s dear friend David Tibet, full details of the celebration concert and many previously unpublished photographs from Shirley’s collection. Also includes a previously unpublished 7″ vinyl EP of some of Shirley’s earliest known recordings.
Besides the beautiful artwork and striking cover, it is the essay by David Tibet of Current 93 that turned my emotional cogs, it is one of the most honest and fitting tributes I’ve ever read. David has developed a close relationship with Shirley since his first meeting in 1991 and went on to encourage Shirley to sing again. He pleaded with her for 23 years, that dream was fulfilled.
Shirley has struck a deep chord with many of the artists I personally love, and she has inspired many that come from the very fringes of music. For me, this is where the most exciting music takes place, it is this music that speaks the most sincerest and feels the most alive and real. A sentiment that is frequently used to describe Shirley Collins. There are some great stories contained in the essay including the recording of Black Ships Ate the Sky on which several versions of Idumea feature by artists including Antony, Marc Almond, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Baby Dee and finally, Shirley Collins.
It was also a real delight to read how in 1991 Shirley had agreed to meet with David for an interview for Ptolemaic Terrascope (who celebrate their 25th Anniversary in August – more here), a magazine that continues to support fringe music and has become something of a community over the years. It’s through this community I’ve got to know many new artists especially the likes of Michael Tanner and Sharron Kraus whose music you should all take the time to discover.
In all, this is great work and a brilliant tribute to Shirley Collins and her enduring influence in music today.
Don’t delay, order the limited edition Special Souvenir Programme here: http://fledglingrecords.co.uk/product/shirley-collins-all-in-the-downs-souvenir-programme/