Fertile Ground

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James H. Collins Jr.

Fertile Ground is an American soul jazz band led by James H. Collins Jr. The group was founded in Baltimore, Maryland and is based in Atlanta, Georgia.


James Collins founded Fertile Ground in 1998 as a three-piece band with vocalist Navasha Daya and Drummer Marcus Asante. The band represented soulful song writing over world rhythms.[1] By 1999, the band added percussionist Ekendra Das, veteran trumpet player Freddie Dunn and woodwind virtuoso Craig D. Alston.

Collins created the record label Blackout Studios[2] and the band self-released Field Songs (1998) and Spiritual War (1999). In 2000, label owner Jake Behnan of Counterpoint Records became enthused about the band and licensed the band's first two albums for a compilation entitled Perception. The Japanese label P-Vine Records agreed to release the band's music throughout Asia. By 2002, the band had sold 85,000 copies of their first two albums.[3] Poised to release their third album, Seasons Change, they switched drummers adding Howard University alum Mark Prince. Still in his 20s, Prince had extensive touring experience.

Fertile Ground had sold more than 200,000 albums and embarked on a 42 date tour with stops in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., LA, Paris, Tokyo, London. Led by the single "Higher", written by Collins, the band licensed music to more than 35 different labels including several motion pictures, commercial ads and television shows. In 2004, the band released the studio project entitled "Black Is..." Officially a sextet consisting of the original members, Fertile Ground continued touring for more than 5 years in support of the "Black Is..." album until talking a short hiatus in late 2009.

In early 2010, the members of Fertile Ground decided to take a break from touring as a unit and concentrate on individual projects. James Collins, now a resident of Mableton, Georgia, continues to write and record for a variety of artists although his primary focus has been family. Mark Prince released his debut album Fraction of Infinity. Freddie Dunn hit the studio to record for his debut funk/jazz hip hop project and Craig Alston started a unit called the Syndicate. After a decade with the band, lead vocalist Navasha Daya also decided to embark on other career goals and has been doing spot projects with various artists.[citation needed] In 2012, Daya released a solo album, Rebirthed Above Ground. Percussionist Ekendra Das now lives in Florida, and released his own project entitled Ethnomusicology, as well as an instructional DVD on percussion, he still performs and records with various artist, and teaches as well.[4]


  1. ^ Williams, Vincent. "Planting Time: Fertile Ground Harvests a Debut Album". Baltimore City Paper. Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  2. ^ Ollison, Rashod (7 December 2008). "No Longer Black And White". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  3. ^ Tyehimba, Afefe (10 July 2002). "In Full Bloom: Fertile Ground's Musical Harvest". Baltimore City Paper. Retrieved 2010-10-28. 
  4. ^ http://navashadaya.bandcamp.com/