By Casey Curtis
I saw something extraordinary at the Cafe Carlyle the other night. Judy Collins defeated Donald Trump. She didn’t prevail in an election (nor unfortunately did Hillary Clinton), but she did defeat some of the toxic misogyny that has been put on display by the soon to be Crotch-Grabber-In-Chief of the United States of America.
During the first few songs of the show, still feeling that I had been punched in the gut by the election results, I thought about how our President elect would see Ms. Collins as a woman of 77 years. I imagined him saying, “well, maybe she was hot when she was in her twenties, but now…well, lets just say, she’s not my type.” But Judy Collins is beautiful, so very beautiful, in every respect. Physically, she has flowing waves of white hair that cascade down past her shoulders and frame her magnificent blue eyes. Her thin body exudes warm artistic energy.
Vocally, Ms. Collins is still a unique presence — she enters soprano ranges without ever sounding operatic. Notes dance, lyrics are separated interestingly for meaning and effect. Vocal choices draw you into the music and keep you transfixed. I was able to discern the lyrics of the Dylan song, “Masters of War” more clearly than I had in recordings by other artists and teared up at the poetry of “Mr. Tambourine Man.” I reveled in Joni Mitchell’s classic “Both Sides Now” and was transfixed by the evocative narrative of “The Blizzard.”
Judy Collins was joined in the middle of the show by Ari Hest, a handsome singer-songwriter with whom Ms. Collins began a recent musical collaboration. While Mr. Hest is a talented, appealing presence, I must confess that I didn’t want to dilute the priceless opportunity to listen to Judy Collins perform. I was happy when Ms. Collins returned to solo numbers for the final portion of her show.
The night I attended, Ms. Collins finished her set with Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne.” Unbeknownst to anyone in the room including the legendary performer, Leonard Cohen had just passed away. It was a fitting send off to musical heaven.
If Ms. Collins’ singing weren’t beauty enough, she is longtime advocate for UNICEF and the elimination of landmines around the world.
Women of talent and intellect and heart and advanced age can be beautiful Mr. Trump. Judy Collins reminds us of that with her breathtaking cabaret show at the Cafe Carlyle.
Judy Collins at the Cafe Carlyle, 212-744-1600, Judy Collins – Vocals, guitar, piano, songwriter. Ari Hest – Vocals, guitar, songwriter. Russell Walden – Piano. Tuesday – Friday at 8:45 PM; Saturday at 8:45 pm & 10:45pm. Cafe Carlyle is at the Carlyle Hotel, 35 East 76th Street, at Madison Avenue. November 10 – 19.