Singing Lessons: A Memoir of Love, Loss, Hope, and Healing

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Simon and Schuster, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 346 pages
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For the millions who know Judy Collins' unforgettable music, this remarkable memoir will come as no surprise. A moving account of growth and healing, memory and rebirth, dreams and meditations, this is Judy's heart statement, imbued with the introspection we love in her songs. From coping with every mother's greatest sorrow -- the loss of a child -- to the shock of seeing her companion of fifteen years nearly die, hers is a ballad of transformation in which some of life's worst tragedies lead to the discovery of a deeper love. "Before I suffered a major catastrophe, I had no way of understanding the depth to which the soul is shaken, the exterior shattered, the interior made vulnerable and raw. Perhaps this is the way the wound works, to open us up so that we can feel and experience the depths, and having gone there, climb to heights we could never imagine...." It was the suicide of her son Clark in 1992 that signaled the slow dismantling of Judy's life, "the end of the world." But in its wake came a choice: to become another victim of the tragedy or to emerge victorious. Judy chose victory, freeing her heart to appreciate every precious moment of life, and see the gift of memory for the miracle it is. With quiet grace and uncommon candor, Singing Lessons reveals some of those miracles -- Judy's memories of places, people, triumphs, and tragedies. From meeting Gloria Steinem and John F. Kennedy to dining with Bill and Hillary Clinton and spending an extraordinary night in the Lincoln bedroom; from recalling the lessons of her beloved music teacher of thirty-two years, Max Margulis, to reflecting on her marriage to Louis Nelson, lover and soulmate for twenty years; and from her fierce battles with her own demons to heartfelt remembrances of her son, Judy shares herself, in the sweet, clear voice that is as true as her music, with the insight her fans have come to know from her lyrics. More than an intimate memoir, Singing Lessons is the triumph of a keenly observant, brilliantly gifted artist -- a deeply affecting and eloquently written journal of a woman determined to keep her heart open, her spirit intact, and all the elements of her life in harmony. It is the heart and soul of Judy Collins.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

This follow-up to Trust Your Heart (1987), the continuing autobiography of singer and songwriter Collins, is sometimes poignant but poorly constructed. The framing device for this account is the 1992 ... Read full review

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User Review  - cnewbycnewby - LibraryThing

As a suicide survivor who, like many before me, found myself wandering in the wilderness of grief, sorrow, and anger this book was both a salve and a pincushion. It is difficult to face the reality of ... Read full review


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About the author (1998)

Judy Collins' voice has been described as "liquid silver." Its uniqueness allows her to sing the songs of a disparate range of artists -- from Leonard Cohen and Dylan to Brecht and Weill, to her own compositions -- with equal authenticity. Her early musical studies led her from Denver to New York and to the eclectic musical style that has become her trademark. Judy's thirty albums have sold millions of copies and been certified gold and platinum. Her musical talents continue to enchant a growing following worldwide. A voice for civil rights throughout her life, Judy also produced and codirected an Academy Award-nominated documentary, Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman, about her first music teacher, the pioneering orchestral conductor Antonia Brica. Judy is also the author of three previous books: her autobiography, Trust Your Heart, the story of a spiritual quest, Amazing Grace, and Shameless, a novel.

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