Judy Collins' historic recording of Amazing Grace was first released half a century ago.
Amazing Grace is back with us. Over 1000 singers from across the globe — professional and amateur — have answered Judy Collins’ call to sing Amazing Grace with her as a sign of solidarity at this very difficult time.
Steve Earle, Tift Merritt, Mandolin Orange, Judith Owen and Madeleine Peyroux are just some of the 1000 singers who participated — plus internationally known choirs including The Sixteen, New York Choral Society, Voices International and GOA University Choir.
Watch moving messages from Ringo Starr, Steve Earle and Tift Merritt, about what Judy's recording of Amazing Grace means to them...
Messages from around the world have been flowing in from people who want to share their experience with the song and their appreciation of the WHO.
It all started in London. First there was the Facebook video filmed from a house in Coronavirus lockdown near London's Charing Cross Hospital.
Judy Collins' Amazing Grace is heard — as if by magic — a thank you to hospital workers.
That first video garnered more than 5 million views. But what had happened remained a mystery. Then we came across an awe-inspiring second clip of the same event...
This time a fuller story emerges… Judy’s recording was played by the now famed priest of Notting Hill, Pat Allerton aka The Portable Priest. The footage shows people coming towards the music and standing in awe... see these videos here...
So a spontaneous event became the inspiration for Judy Collins to put together this 50th Anniversary very special re-release of her original recording with the addition of a new Global Virtual Choir and in aid of the World Health Organization Solidarity Response Fund.
Judy Collins says from New York:
“I recorded Amazing Grace with a group of friends at Saint Paul’s Chapel on the Columbia University campus in New York City. When my recording of Amazing Grace was released it became enormously popular all over the world.
It was written in around 1772 by John Newton, a man who evolved from a slave ship captain to a writer of powerful hymns, and changed his entire life, becoming a model for spiritual transformation.
That’s what we need today once again. Stay safe, help others and pray for the planet. I am sending this song out to all the doctors, nurses and patients. We will survive this with love and music and amazing grace.”
This is a song that has brought the world so much solace and comfort in times of darkness.
Amazing Grace is what the world needs now.
Let's spread hope and healing through music...
Here's the official video...
- Amazing Grace by Judy Collins & The Global Virtual Choir — the new single
- Available now
- To download and stream
- Official video out now
- An Elektra/Asylum release
- All proceeds to the WHO Solidarity Response Fund
More about Judy Collins’ Amazing Grace
Judy Collins first embraced Amazing Grace in 1964. She witnessed marchers singing the hymn led by voting and women's rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, and saw its equal emotional impact on the marchers, witnesses, and law enforcement who opposed the civil rights demonstrators.
She considered it as a talisman of sorts for peace and started to perform the song in her sets from that point on — it soon became one of her most requested songs when she played live. Judy recorded it for her 1970 album Whales & Nightingales and connected the recording to the Vietnam War, to which she objected.
Judy explained: “I didn't know what else to do about the war in Vietnam. I had marched, I had voted, I had gone to jail on political actions and worked for the candidates I believed in. The war was still raging. There was nothing left to do, I thought... but sing Amazing Grace.”
That will ring true with many today.
Judy’s version of the song became a global hit, finding chart success repeatedly including five times in the UK alone, and has been registered with the Library of Congress National Registry