Judee Sill: The BBC Recordings

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Judee Sill: The BBC Recordings

Ethereal folk singer reveals her dark side

Judee Sill wasn’t well. She was a drug addict, a thief and a prostitute. She lived out of a car, on the street and in prison. When speaking, she repeated herself and stumbled over words. But when Sill performed, she came alive. A classically trained pianist and wide-ranging vocalist, she wrote structured, eloquent, gospel-tinged folk songs about rapture, redemption and God’s compassion.

This compilation of BBC session recordings from 1972 and ’73 is a survey of Sill’s music and offers valuable insight into her personality. Although three songs appear twice, and two songs appears three times (devoted Sill fans may appreciate the nuances, but newcomers will find it redundant), the juxtaposition of her awkward, clumsy introductions and graceful, controlled performances is disarming.

Sill disappeared about a year after these songs were recorded, and five years after that, she died of a cocaine overdose. For better and for worse, this collection offers an honest glimpse at the life and music of a brilliant, tragic woman.