Just as it was with the blue-eyed Judy Collins, Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, was inspired as a teenager by the beautiful voice of a folk singer to forsake the piano and take up guitar.
"Yes, but look what she did with it," Sr. Joan said of Collins, 73, who has recorded more than 35 albums and such beloved, familiar songs as "Both Sides Now" and "Send in the Clowns" since making her recording debut in 1961.
Sr. Joan, of course, chose an accomplished path in higher education over music. But the St. Ambrose University president continues to play and sing for her own enjoyment, and occasionally that of her family and friends.
Once described as "the voice of a century," it was Collins' siren call that led Sr. Joan to give up piano and take up the guitar as a schoolgirl in Albany, N.Y.
"I was barely a teenager when I heard her and said to myself ‘That's the kind of music I‘d love to do,'" Sr. Joan remembered. "Just that sound. That voice. You could hear it - that wonderful, pure, clear voice that had behind it such great emotion."
She shared that story when Collins shared her own story of life, loss, love and song as the featured speaker at a July 17 luncheon in the Rogalski Center ballroom. St. Ambrose was a supporting sponsor of the event, which was put on by the Quad Cities Women's Connection and attended by 330 Quad-Citians.
Sr. Joan was thrilled to have a front row seat for a talk during which Collins broke into song several times. She also had a chance to briefly speak with the singer before the luncheon.
"Just the thrill of a lifetime, really," Sr. Joan said. "My family and friends are going to be so jealous."