TVD Radar: The Ballad Of Shirley Collins in theaters 11/2, “Southern Journey” US screenings announced

VIA PRESS RELEASE | Fire Films announce the US theatrical release of feature documentary about the iconic English singer The Ballad of Shirley Collins.

This year is the 59th anniversary of a seminal 1959 song-collecting trip around the Southern United States by pre-eminent ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax and his then “secretary,” Shirley Collins. To commemorate this, and celebrate the theatrical release of The Ballad of Shirley Collins on November 2, the filmmakers are undertaking an event tour of the Southern States they visited. These screenings will often be accompanied by live sets by prominent musicians (details to be announced).

At the time Shirley Collins—now celebrated singer, folklorist and MBE—wasn’t known outside of folk circles in the UK. Alan had met her there, where he’d been avoiding the attentions of the McCarthy witch-hunts, and they became lovers. Together they returned to an America on the cusp of the Civil Rights movement, and embarked on a road-trip where they collected a vital body of music that provides a peerless document of the time.

Alan and Shirley left New York in their second-hand Buick, with a state of the art stereo recording device wrapped up in blankets in the boot. As part of the US release, the filmmakers are retracing Alan and Shirley’s 1959 trip with a series of event screenings. Alongside screenings at the Belcourt in Nashville, and the Library of Congress in Washington DC, they will be visiting a range of the rural communities they recorded in—Galax, VA, Whitesburg KY and Como MS among others—taking the music back to the communities that created it.

Shirley went on to become the most significant English traditional singer of her age, before losing her voice in mysterious circumstances in the 1980s. This film juxtaposes this transatlantic road-trip from the start of her career with the story of her brave attempt (at the age of 80) to rediscover her voice and place in the pantheon of musical greats. The film is both a celebration of the power of tradition and an inspiring story of triumph over adversity, and an exploration of the enduring flow of cultural exchange between the US & UK.

The film has been featured at prestigious international festivals including Rotterdam, CPH:DOX and the London Film Festival, and has completed a successful UK theatrical run. A Kickstarter appeal formed part of the fundraising for the film and led to the release of a tribute album featuring notable fans of Shirley’s work, including Will Oldham, Graham Coxon, Lee Ranaldo, Angel Olsen, and Johnny Flynn.

SCREENINGS TO DATE:
“Southern Journey” screenings with filmmaker Q&A:

2nd Nov: Lightbox Centre, Philadelphia, PA – Live set by Rosali
3rd Nov: Library of Congress, Washington, DC
5th Nov: Rex Theater, Galax, VA
7th Nov: Appalshop, Whitesburg, KY
8th Nov: Berea College, Berea, KY
12th Nov: Belcourt, Nashville, TN
14th Nov: Ole Miss Archive, Oxford, MS
14th Nov: University Cinema, Livingston, AL

Other screenings to date:
5th Oct: ATLARGE Music Film Festival, Atlanta, GA (special preview screening)
29th Nov: Alabama Archive, Montgomery, AL
4th Dec: Revolve, Asheville, NC

Further screenings also to be announced.

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