The Ballad of Shirley Collins. Complemented by live music by Christof Certik, Bart Davenport and Miranda Lee Richards, the film is as much a history lesson as it is the story of Collins’ constitutionally heroic attempt to regain her singing voice — at the tender age of 80.
Culture more often flourishes due to certain individuals who — like a river running beneath fertile earth — make all good things grow above ground because of their unheralded presence. Shirley Collins — the English singer whose travels throughout America in the ’50s with McCarthy-hounded ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax led to everything from preserving our folk music heritage to inspiring avant experimentalists Current 93 — is one such figure. Her place in the canon, where she remains a lustrously illustrious presence, can finally be more fully appreciated with tonight’s Los Angeles premiere of the documentary