Knowing me, knowing you: Judy Collins and Katherine Depaul

A relationship under the microscope

JUDY COLLINS, 72, is a Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter. She has released more than 40 recordings and lives in New York with her second husband, the designer Louis Nelson

 

We met in about 1993 when I was looking for someone to be my assistant. She was in art school and came along and said: "Yeah I just want to work part-time," and was quite casual about the whole thing.

Then, once she started, she found out that there were many, many levels to it – the writing, recording, performing and touring – and I think she realised working with me would be her degree in arts. I was able to expose her to everything I've learnt over the last 50 plus years. She took right to it like a duck to water and we've been working together ever since.

She deals with the agencies and the travel and concerts; she really runs the ship. We've certainly been through difficulties – that's true of when you have a long relationship with anybody, but she's been flexible, eager to learn; she's contributed great ideas. I think it's a matter of chemistry. We can be social when the time comes; we sometimes travel together if we have something big going on. It's been a relationship I've worked hard on. I've spent enough time on the shrink's couch to know that I have to always trust my instincts. I'm so grateful that I have so many people I've worked with on my team for so many years: lawyers, accountants, producers. It creates a sort of family. I've been living with the same man for 33 years. I like long term relationships – they're so rewarding.

Of course, at my age, long term relationships kind of come with the territory.

 

KATHERINE DEPAUL, 38, started working for Judy Collins while still at university. She is President ofWildflower Records, Collins’ record label and lives in New York

My whole working life has been with Judy. I wasn’t really aware of her when I first met her, I was very young, but I quickly put together who she was. Even though there’s more than 30 years between us we have always gotten on well. I think that’s why it’s lasted so long and we’ve been able to work on all these amazing projects together. Because I don’t have the old school music background of some of the larger labels, I was able to think outside of the box, which probably worked as an advantage.

The label started off to be just a Judy Collins project to release her albums, but we’ve gone on to sign other artists too. There’s definitely been a learning curve to it. To me she’s a mentor; she has amazing knowledge and experience in the music industry, she’s been through it all and is incredibly resilient. To have that access to someone like that on a day to day basis is very inspiring. I’m still surprised with all the stories she comes up with after all these years. Whether it’s something about Bob Dylan or when we went to the Sydney Opera House and she told me that the last time she was there they were building it.

She’s 72 and she has more energy than my friends who are in their thirties, which is incredible. As a woman, it’s so exciting to know that one can be thriving and really have a huge career at that age. Judy Collins’ new album Bohemian is out now on Wildflower Records. judycollins.com

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