The Irish American Writers & Artists honored Judy Collins with the Eugene O’Neill Lifetime Achievement Award before a packed house at Rosie O’Grady’s Manhattan Club on October 15.
Among those lauding the iconic folksinger was 93-year-old singer/songwriter and activist Pete Seeger, who declared, “If the world is still around in another 100 years, it will be because of the arts.” Also along to honor Collins were folk legend Tom Paxton, Malachy McCourt, IAW&A president T.J. English, singer Ashley Davis, filmmaker Charles Hale, and musician and writer Larry Kirwan, the evening’s master of ceremonies. Collins was introduced by her good friend Tom Moran, CEO of Mutual of America.
Moran, who professed not to have any talent, except for the ability to listen, not only with his ears but with his heart, praised Collins’s work on behalf of the relief organization Concern Worldwide U.S., of which he is chairman.
Collins happily accepted the award, saying she was honored to have her name associated with Eugene O’Neill. “I always believed that, in my heart, I am first and foremost a storyteller descended from a long line of Irish storytellers and balladeers,” she said. Those thoughts were echoed in the video tribute screened that night, in which she said, “Everyone in their heart is in some ways Irish, I’m convinced, because there’s a piece of all of us that has this deeply wounded place that needs to be healed by music. The Irish do that all the time.”
The award was established in 2009 to honor the accomplishments of a writer, actor, musician, or cultural institution that has sustained a body of work that best exemplifies the level of integrity maintained by O’Neill. Judy Collins was the first musician to receive the award.
IAW&A is a non-profit organization dedicated to the celebration of the Irish arts and of artists both past and present.
For more information about IAW&A, go to www.i-am-wa.org.