Arts & Theatre

LOST ANGEL: THE GENIUS OF JUDEE SILL + Q&A w/ Tommy Peltier & Pat Thomas

Judge
$15    |  May 25, 2024  |  7:00PM - 9:00PM
Philosophical Research Society

Join us as we celebrate and pay tribute to the great Judee Sill – one of the most brilliant and influential, yet largely unsung, singer-songwriters of the 1970s – with a screening of the new documentary LOST ANGEL: THE GENIUS OF JUDEE SILL, followed by an intimate conversation between acid folk journeyman Tommy Peltier, one of Judee’s dearest friends and creative collaborators, and author and producer Pat Thomas.

A songsmith savant on par with the likes of Brian Wilson, Sill once coyly cited Bach, Ray Charles, and Pythagoras as the sole influences of her self-described “country-cult-baroque” music. The latter of that trio, the philosopher who explored the mystical relationship between music and mathematics, is particularly apt: through her soulful, crystalline, and compositionally immaculate songs, rich with themes of love, metaphysics, rapture, and redemption, she sought to transcend the earthly difficulties which dogged her since youth, reaching for something truly divine.

The aching, poignant beauty of the music was born of the push/pull tensions within its complex and troubled creator. Sill was classically trained in piano in her youth, while surviving horrific childhood abuse. A string of armed robberies as a teen landed her in reform school, where, made to play the church organ, she found Christianity and her passion for spiritual music. Soon afterward she developed a crippling heroin addiction and returned to crime – robbery, sex work, fraud, and forgery – to support her habit, eventually landing her in prison. While incarcerated, she received word of her brother’s death and resolved to devote her life to creating righteous music. “I know the laws of karma,” she once said. “ I don't want to help one person, I want to help humanity. I want to inspire and uplift people without really knowing it.” Within two years of her release from prison she went from living in her car to opening for Crosby and Nash, becoming the first artist signed to David Geffen’s Asylum Records, and – acclaimed by critics and peers – appearing on the cover of Rolling Stone. After two singularly incredible albums, though, she was dropped by Asylum and, struggling once again with addiction after a series of car accidents left her in excruciating pain, tragically passed from an overdose at the age of 35 while working on songs for her would-be third album.

After decades of remaining something of an enigma, shrouded by her tragic mythos – LOST ANGEL brings Judee Sill to life, telling her story through animated diary excerpts, archival footage, and interviews with those who knew her best, alongside insights from music historians – painting a full portrait of Sill’s artistic genius and human vulnerabilities. The film not only shines a long overdue spotlight on her indelible musical contributions but humanizes a brilliant woman often lost behind her legend.

Featuring interviews with industry friends and peers including Linda Rondstadt, Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Graham Nash, and David Geffen, plus a new crop of influenced musicians including Fleet Foxes, Big Thief, and Weyes Blood, David Geffen, as well as those who knew her most intimately, including her close collaborator, sometimes lover, and lifelong friend Tommy Peltier.

Following the screening, Peltier will sit down for a fascinating and insightful conversation with Pat Thomas, the author and music producer (and the film’s co-producer) who, along with spearheading Sill reissues and rarities releases, discovered the recordings for her unfinished third album, Dreams Come True, tracking down her family to work with them on its posthumous release.

Join us for this very special evening as we celebrate the life, legacy, and genius of Judee Sill!