Judy Collins takes the stage at fundraiser for the arts in Skaneateles

One definition for "Icon" is one who is the object of great attention and devotion; an idol. Singer, songwriter and entertainer, Judy Collins, told a packed tent at the SKARTS (Skaneateles Arts Council) gala in Skaneateles that she was 1956's American Idol.

At 70, folk legend, cultural icon Collins, is one part glamour, one part burlesque, shaken up with plenty of talent and life experience. Beyond her elegant "butter wouldn't melt in her mouth" 21 century evolved Gibson girl persona, she's essentially an old-fashioned show business person with surprising star quality.

"I was a storyteller," she said, "I never intended to make a record."

She told stories about her daddy's radio show, the folk scene in Denver and then Manhattan, quoting the likes of Dorothy Parker and Mae West with a few one liners of her own.

"I'm glad to be here," she told the audience, "I'm glad to be anywhere these days."

Arriving in Skaneateles

Earlier in the day the Arts Council held a brunch in her honor at Dr. Robert Kiltz's house, which was catered by Mirbeau Inn and Spa. Neighbors Mary and Craig Humphrey arrived with a Newport Folk record album in hand. Craig said Collins was partly responsible for getting him his first girlfriend -- as she was a singer and he went to school on Collins and learned to play some of her hits on the guitar. It worked and he got the girl. This many years later he was able to thank Collins and to top it off she autographed his album complete with a heart.

A magical introduction

Skaneateles' Holland "Holly" Gregg, an accomplished musician in his own right, and actress, comedian, Laura Austin introduced Collins to her audience on the lawn at Stella Maris.

Gregg took the crowd back to 1965 when he was a 15-year-old and listening intently to music in his second floor bedroom off of East Lake Road. Remember back when your room was the center of your world? He described the music scene of the 60s mentioning that "There was this kind of undercurrent of folk music happening."

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