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The Ballad of Shirley Collins

Rob Curry, Tim Plester, 95 min

United Kingdom, 2017

The Ballad of Shirley Collins

Occult, pagan natural mysticism from the English countryside meets the folk ballad tradition in the 82-year-old folk singer Shirley Collins's supernaturally beautiful voice.

82-year-old Shirley Collins is an almost totemistic figure within folk music. As a young woman she travelled around America's southern states to collect folk songs, and soon she and her sister Dolly were at the epicentre of the revival of folk music in 1960s and 1970s Britain. Shirley's ascetic singing and Dolly's simple piano and organ arrangements of the old folk tunes encapsulated the sound of the English folk soul. They sang about the hard-working class with respect, and gave it back its honour and pride. But one day, Shirley lost her voice on stage at the National Theatre in London, and it was more than 30 years later – in 2016 – that the British public could hear her sing again. Old myths meet pagan natural mysticism from the English countryside in a beautiful and evocative film, which using both original clips and footage from today weaves together the work of an entire lifetime and a charismatic artist's return into a beautiful portrait of a worldly-wise and warm-hearted woman. Shirley Collins is closing this year's festival with a live performance - see Concerts!

Director: Rob Curry, Tim Plester
Original Title: The Ballad of Shirley Collins
Country: United Kingdom
Year: 2017
Running time: 95 min
Dialogue: English
Category: Music
Tags: MusicFilms Pioneers
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Producer: Paul Williams
World Sales: Burning Bridges, Burning Bridges Ltd
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