FOLK singer Shirley Collins has spoken of her love for Sussex ahead of a long-awaited performance in her home county.

Last year Collins released her first album in almost four decades, the critically acclaimed Lodestar, which she will play in full as part of the Brighton Festival on Sunday.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Argus, she discussed returning to music after losing her voice.

She was diagnosed with dysphonia in the late 1970s and didn’t sing in public again until 2014.

The 81-year-old, who lives in Lewes and grew up in Hastings, said folk music and Sussex were intrinsically linked.

She said: “We’re surrounded by so much history here and of course the South Downs. I can just visualise the Downs when I’m listening to old Sussex tunes.

“The songs reflect the landscape and the people too. There’s a stubbornness about Sussex people – the motto is “We wunt be druv” after all. They have an insistence on themselves, how great they are.”

Collins has also lived in Brighton and managed the Oxfam shop in Western Road in the first two years of it opening.

Now a settled Lewes resident, she embraces the annual bonfire night in the town.

“I just love it,” she said. “It’s such a thrilling event. It really looks magical and a little bit scary.

“I have an open house on the night and I cook lots of sausage casserole and mulled wine. Outside my cottage you can stand in the street and watch four firework displays. I wouldn’t miss that for anything.”

Collins is acknowledged as an influential figure in British folk music, having released a string of albums in the 1960s. Songwriter Billy Bragg called her “one of England’s greatest cultural treasures”.

She performed regularly with her sister Dolly, who died in 1995.

Shirley Collins received an MBE for services to music in 2007.

She plays Brighton Dome on Sunday at 7.30pm.

lSee The Guide tomorrow for full interview.