As a child, she studied classical piano with Antonia Brico, before switching to Folk guitar at the age of 16.
She was born in Seattle, Washington. She began as a classical pianist, with her first performance at the age of 13. Soon after that, however, she discovered the work of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and other Folk singers, and fell in love with traditional and contemporary topical music.
When she was 22, she released her debut album A Maid of Constant Sorrow. She later became involved in the Civil Rights movement and the struggle for peace during the Vietnam War.
She began her career singing both traditional songs and contemporary Folk tunes written by songwriters like Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs. She also brought great attention to songs by artists like Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell. It wasn't until 1967 that she began recording her own original compositions.
Throughout her career, Collins has been socially active. She is a representative for UNICEF and an advocate for the destruction of landmines and suicide prevention.
She has written a memoir and two novels, and has received two Grammy Awards and an Academy Award Nomination.
Suggestion credit: Bertrand - Paris, France, for all above