Singer-songwriter Judy Collins can find no wrong in Arizona.
The artist loves the mountains, the dry desert, the colors, the sunset. In 1962, she enjoyed the views via an isolation room at the Tucson Clinic as she recovered from tuberculosis for a month. She was diagnosed in October of that year during a trip from Colorado to Los Angeles.
Still, Collins thinks fondly of Arizona. So much so that she’s written a new song, “Arizona,” that will go on a new album of all Collins material set for release next year.
She’s returning to the Grand Canyon State on Friday, July 14, and Saturday, July 15, to perform at the Musical Instrument Museum.
“I’ve played it a number of times,” the sprightly Collins says. “They keep wanting me back, which is good. I will sing ‘Arizona,’ which I have performed at the MIM before. I just haven’t recorded it yet.”
The concerts are part of Collins’ busy 2017-2018 schedule. She’s continuing to push Silver Skies Blue, a 2015 album she recorded with Ari Hest. It earned them a Grammy Award nomination for best folk album. It was Hest’s first nomination, and Collins’ first in 40 years.
Recently she released the PBS CD/DVD A Love Letter to Stephen Sondheim, which includes the song that kickstarted Collins’ career, “Send in the Clowns.” She covered the song in 1975 and it established her as the preeminent female folk artist.
She’s interspersing her solo dates with gigs accompanied by longtime friend Stephen Stills, with whom she will release a CD. He recalled his relationship with her in the Crosby, Stills and Nash suite f songs, “Judy Blue Eyes.”
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” she says of the tour. “We were lovers and then he wrote the song about me. We’ve been friends all these years.
“We’ve been talking about this for decades, actually. We’ve been trying to figure out when and if and how it could happen.”
With Crosby, Stills and Nash off the road, now was the perfect time to pounce. The Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation is bringing the show to the state as part of its 2017 Chasing Rainbows Gala at 7 p.m. Sunday, October 22.
“Stephen is thrilled and excited to be doing something new and different with me and we’re having a lot of fun,” Collins says. “I have total respect for his musicality and taste. I think he would say the same for me.”
Collins still has more work to do. A former bulimic, she released the book Cravings: How I Conquered Food. She is scheduling book signings and discussions.
“I’m very busy,” she says. “It’s very important to me. I can do this because I’m a multitasker by nature. What makes you a multitasker? You learn at your mother’s feet and then you continue like that.”
Involved with music since 1959, the 78-year-old performer is still passionate about the artform and attributes her success to hard work.
“I’m so lucky, really,” she says. “I’ve worked my ass off for 78 years. I’m a workaholic; partly born with the talent and partly lucky. I’m disciplined, too. I love it.”
Judy Collins, Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, 480.478.6000, mimmusictheater.themim.org, 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 14, and Saturday, July 15, $60-$70.
Judy Collins and Stephen Stills, Fox Tucson Theatre, 17 W. Congress Street, Tucson, 520.547.3040, foxtucson.com, 5 p.m. dinner and 7 p.m. performance Sunday, October 22, $75 and $300.