NEW YORK CITY -- The Amusement and Music Owners Association of New York bestowed its 2014 Jukebox Artist of Year Award on singer-songwriter Judy Collins. A ceremony and gala dinner honoring Collins packed the second floor of Uncle Jack's Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan with coin-op industry members.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you -- for getting my music out there," Collins told the jukebox operators and other industry stakeholders. "You have a very special skill. You give something to make people feel better -- to lift their spirits -- and that's what music does."
PHOTO: Judy Collins accepts Jukebox Artist of the Year Award presented by (from left) AMI Entertainment's
Mike Maas, AMOA-NY president Ken Goldberg and AMI's John Margold.
Born in Seattle, Collins was the oldest of five children. Her father, Chuck Collins, who was blind, was a disc jockey and singer who moved the family from Seattle to Denver, where she studied classical piano with Antonia Brico, and famously played Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos with the Denver Symphony at age 13. But it was the songs and lyrics of the 1960s folk revival that impacted Collins most. Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Phil Ochs were among her influencers, and she eventually made her way to Greenwich Village, New York City, signing with Elektra Records and releasing her first album, "Maid of Constant Sorrow," when she was 22.
It was immediately after signing with Elektra in 1961 when Collins learned about jukebox operators, one-stops and rack-jobbers, and their role, along with radio stations, in distributing music to the masses.
Collins' "Both Sides Now" (1968) won a Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance or Folk Recording. Stephen Sondheim won a Grammy for Song of the Year, "Send in the Clowns" (1975), based on the popularity of Collins' performance of the song on her album "Judith."
The Jukebox Artist of the Year Award was presented to Collins by AMOA-NY president Ken Goldberg, who runs one of the largest music operations in New York City, and AMI Entertainment Network chief executive Mike Maas and senior vice-president John Margold. AMI, a leading jukebox manufacturer and music provider, was a major sponsor of this year's awards and dinner program, which helped raise funds for AMOA-NY, a not-for-profit trade organization.
Collins was reportedly unaware of the modern touchscreen jukebox's capabilities, and she was impressed by the industry's technological progress in the Internet age. She got a close-up look at AMI's new Continental video box, which was on hand for the celebration. Maas gave her a demonstration of the Continental, designed to deliver a compelling music video experience. AMI's flagship NGX jukebox also supports the company's service, which launched a few months ago with some 10,000 music videos.
Collins is the third music artist to be recognized by the state association in recent years. Previous award winners were Dionne Warwick (2013) and folk legend Peter Yarrow (2012) of Peter, Paul and Mary fame.
"This year's jukebox event was a great success and enjoyed an excellent turnout," said Goldberg, who owns Emerson Amusement Co. (Woodside, NY). "AMOA-NY shined, and so did Judy, who recognizes how important jukeboxes are to the music industry. Facing and overcoming many challenges throughout a 60-year career, she is a lady who has shown all of us how to survive, and thrive. Operators who make their livelihoods in music -- and her audience is our customer -- can learn from her focus, dedication and discipline."
Judy Collins is online at judycollins.com.
PHOTO: Judy Collins gets tutorial on a modern jukebox touchscreen interface from AMI's Mike Maas.
Pictured here is the new Continental video music jukebox.
PHOTO: AMI Entertainment's Mike Maas and H. Betti Industries chief executive Bob Geschine
share a stoic moment with Judy Collins.