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Renowned folk singer Shirley Collins has recalled how she lost her ability to sing after the breakdown of her second marriage but recovered it almost 40 years later.
The musician, who was a leading figure in the British folk revival of the 1960s, said she developed a condition called dysphonia when her then-husband Ashley Hutchings left her.
Collins, now 88, has returned to the concert stage and the recording studio in the past decade after the condition prompted to her to take many years away from music.
She released her latest album, Archangel Hill, in May.
Speaking to Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, she recalled how she and Hutchings had been performing at the National Theatre when he had abruptly announced his departure.
Collins had continued to work but said she had often been confronted with Hutchings’ new partners.
“These were promenade performances, so the audience was right up close – they could walk right in front of us,” she said.
“The first actress (Hutchings) fell in love with would turn up night after night standing right in front of me as I was trying to sing, but wearing his sweaters.
“I couldn’t cope. I couldn’t. I didn’t know what to do.
“Some nights I was fine and could sing well. Some nights my voice was shaky as anything. Some nights I opened my mouth and nothing came out.”
Collins said that she had found it “so humiliating” that she had been forced to stop, but realised she could not even sing in private.
“It was devastating,” she said.
But despite her condition, Collins overcame her vocal struggle and returned 38 years later, with the release of her album Lodestar in 2016.
Collins other work includes Heart’s Ease, Sweet England and The Sweet Primeroses, on which she was accompanied by her older sister Dolly Collins.
The pair collaborated on a number of albums and often performed together before Dolly died in 1995.
Collins became emotional as she said she was “very lucky” to have had Dolly as a sister.
“We were always best of friends and we never quarrelled, there was always too much to laugh about, to talk about. It was lovely being with each other.
“No, we were great sisters and I lost her far too young.”
Desert Island Discs airs on BBC Sounds and BBC Radio 4 at 11.15am on Sunday.