Jacob Collier

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Jacob Collier
Jacob Collier Recent Image
Background information
Birth nameJacob Moriarty[1]
Born (1994-08-02) 2 August 1994 (age 25)[2]
North London, England
OriginNorth London
  • Musician
  • arranger
  • composer
  • singer
  • multi-instrumentalist
  • producer
Years active2011–present
LabelsHajanga Records
Associated acts

Jacob Collier (born 2 August 1994) is an English singer, arranger, composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist based in London, England. In 2012, his split-screen video covers of popular songs, such as Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing", began to go viral on YouTube.

Collier's style fuses elements of jazz, a cappella, groove, folk, electronic music, classical music, gospel, soul and improvisation, and often features extreme use of reharmonisation. In 2014, Collier signed to Quincy Jones' management company and began working on his one-man, audio-visual live performance vehicle, designed and built at MIT in Cambridge, Ma.[3][failed verification]

In 2016, Collier released his debut album, In My Room, which was entirely self-recorded, arranged, performed and produced in the small back room of his family home in Finchley, north London.[4] In 2017, Collier was awarded two Grammys for his arrangements of "Flintstones" and "You And I", both from the album.[5]

In 2018, Collier began working on Djesse, a four-volume, 50-song album featuring more than two dozen artists and ensembles. The first album, Djesse Vol. 1, was released in December 2018; and the second, Djesse Vol. 2, was released in July 2019. As of December 2019, the first half of the project has led to two more Grammy nominations: Jacob's arrangements of "All Night Long" on Djesse Vol. 1 and "Moon River" on Djesse Vol. 2 are both nominated.

Life and career[edit]

Collier grew up in North London, raised primarily by a single mother, with two younger sisters.[6] He attended Mill Hill County High School in North London, and The Purcell School for Young Musicians in Bushey, Hertfordshire. Collier briefly studied jazz piano at the Royal Academy of Music.[7] His mother, Susan Collier, is a violin professor at Junior Academy, studied at Junior Academy and was a student on the BMus course at the Royal Academy of Music. She is a music teacher and a conductor at the Royal Academy in London.[8] Collier's maternal grandfather, Derek Collier, was a violinist who also taught at the Royal Academy of Music and performed with orchestras around the world. Regarding the role music plays within his family, Collier says, "We sing Bach chorales together as family – it's just so much fun."[6] Collier is partly of Chinese descent, through his maternal grandmother, Lila Wong.[9][10]

In 2004 he portrayed Tiny Tim in Arthur Allan Seidelman's A Christmas Carol,[11] being credited as Jacob Moriarty.[1] At the same time, Collier was also performing as a treble singer in classical roles such as one of the three boys in Mozart's The Magic Flute and "Miles" in Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw, the latter of which heavily influenced his usage and understanding of harmony.[6] Of Britten's harmonic language, Collier says, "my mind was shattered outwards".[6] Collier received the ABRSM Gold Medal for the highest mark in the country for his grade eight singing result in 2008.[12]

Collier is a self-declared autodidact. He began uploading homemade, multi-instrumental content to YouTube in 2011, releasing, among others, vocal arrangements of "Pure Imagination", from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and in 2013, a multi-instrumental rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing". His activity caught the attention of Quincy Jones,[6] who flew Collier out to the Montreux Jazz Festival where he met with him and Herbie Hancock.[13]

2014–2015: Quincy Jones, MIT, and Live Performance Vehicle[edit]

Jacob Collier's Live Solo Show

Around this time, Ben Bloomberg, a PhD student at the MIT Media Lab, reached out to Collier regarding the creation and development of musical hardware and software for live performance. Over the following months, he and Collier developed and constructed a new multimedia live experience.[14]

In 2015, Collier's debut live solo show was completed and began touring Europe and the US.[15] The performance featured a circle of musical instruments, with six simultaneous looping stations capable of simultaneous playback, backed by synced real-time 3D-captured video loops, projected onto a screen behind the instruments, courtesy of Louis Mustill and William Young of Artists and Engineers. Central to the One-Man Show was a custom-built vocal "Harmonizer" instrument which Collier designed and created with Bloomberg, which enabled Collier to perform multi-voice harmonies in real-time.[16][15] The debut performance of this show was held at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London.[3] A few weeks later, Collier opened for Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea with the One-Man-Show at the 2015 Montreux Jazz Festival.[17]

2015–2018: In My Room, World Tour, and #IHarmU[edit]

In July 2015, Beats by Dr. Dre reached out to Collier to provide the music for 'The Game Starts Here' England Rugby World Cup campaign.[citation needed] Collier recorded an a cappella version of the well-known hymn "Jerusalem" for the commercial, which was aired on national television before each England match.[18]

In late 2015, Collier began working on his debut album In My Room, after performing with WDR Big Band in a concert in Cologne, Germany.[19][20] He arranged, recorded and produced the album entirely on his own, playing every instrument, in addition to writing eight of the eleven songs. The album was recorded and mixed in one three-month period[21] in the music room of his family home in London, England, hence the title.[22] It was mastered by Bernie Grundman,[23] and released on 1 July 2016 through the independent record label Membran Entertainment Group. Following the release, Collier embarked on a world tour with his one-man show including the 2016 Montreux Jazz Festival.[24]

In anticipation of the release of In My Room, Collier launched the "#IHarmU" campaign through Patreon, a crowdfunding site for content creators, where $100 patrons sent him 15-second video clips of melodies, which he harmonized with multiple vocal parts with his well-known multi-screen layout, and uploaded to his social media platforms. He demonstrated this creative process in a two-hour live-stream on 31 October 2017.[25][26][27][better source needed] Collier received more than 130 melodies and donations to the project, including from British jazz artist Jamie Cullum, Ben Folds, Herbie Hancock, and Kevin Olusola of the a cappella group Pentatonix, the latter for whom he arranged "White Christmas" on A Pentatonix Christmas, which won a Contemporary A Cappella Society award.

In February 2016, Collier was featured on Snarky Puppy's album, Family Dinner - Volume 2[28]. Then, on 22 August, Collier took part in a Quincy Jones tribute concert at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in London, in which he performed his own orchestral arrangement of his original song, 'In The Real Early Morning', with the Metropole Orkest, under the baton of Jules Buckley, amongst other songs.[29][30]

In December 2016, Collier collaborated with 150 students at MIT to produce a 10 December live concert in Kresge Auditorium titled "Imagination Off the Charts", playing alongside orchestral arrangements of his repertoire. This residency was the subject of a documentary film,[31][32] Imagination Off The Charts, which won a regional Emmy in June 2018.[33]

In February 2017, Collier won two Grammy Awards: Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella for the Stevie Wonder song "You and I" and Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals for a cover of "Flintstones", the theme song from the 1960s television series The Flintstones.[34][35] One month later he made his US television debut on The Tavis Smiley Show performing a rendition of "You And I" with jazz-gospel a cappella group Take 6.[36] In 2017, Collier also recomposed Samsung's signature ringtone, "Over The Horizon", for the new Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+,[37] and was co-producer on two songs from Becca Stevens album, Regina.[38] Collier also helped score DreamWorks’ 2017 film, The Boss Baby, with composer Hans Zimmer.[39] The following month, Collier performed with Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.[40] In April, Collier was also a guest on the daily weekday talk show Harry,[41][42] and a speaker at the annual TED conference in Vancouver, Canada.[43]

Collier toured internationally with his One-Man-Show for two and a half years (between 1 July 2015 and 18 December 2017),[44][45] alongside hosting masterclasses, and performances with orchestras and big bands around the world, including the Metropole Orkest. On 9 July, he and Cory Henry performed again with the Metropole Orkest and Jules Buckley at North Sea Jazz Festival.[46] In December 2017, Collier collaborated with American Pop/R&B singer Tori Kelly to record an a cappella YouTube video cover of the Christmas song "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas".[47]

In December 2017, Collier announced that the final performance with the One-Man-Show would be held in Rome on 18 December 2017. He discussed plans for a second album, to be recorded in 2018.[citation needed]

In July 2018, Collier was one of the surprise guests at Quincy Jones' 85th birthday party celebrations, at the Montreux Jazz Club.[citation needed]

On 19 July, "Jacob Collier and Friends" took the stage for a special concert as part of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Collier performed alongside the Metropole Orkest under conductor Jules Buckley, and invited Take 6, Sam Amidon, Becca Stevens, and Maalem Gnawa musician Hamid El Kasri to be a part of the performance.[48]

2018–present: Djesse[edit]

On 29 October 2018, Collier announced a new four-volume, 50-song musical project, titled Djesse.[49][16]

Following a one-week residency at MIT, Djesse (Vol. 1) was premiered live in Kresge Auditorium on 8 December 2018. The concert featured his performance with the MIT JC Orchestra (composed of MIT and Berklee College musicians), MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble, MIT Concert Choir and Chamber Chorus, Rambax MIT (Senegalese drumming ensemble), Suzie Collier (Jacob's mother), and other special guest musicians from Boston and Los Angeles.[50][16] Ben Bloomberg, designer of Collier's "Harmonizer" equipment and again a collaborator at MIT,[16] was present in the audience and acknowledged by Collier. The sold-out concert, accompanied by a laser and LED display lightshow spectacular using custom-built lighting apparatus on-stage, was open to the MIT community as well as Boston aficionados.[51]

The first single of the Djesse project, "With The Love in My Heart", was released on 2 November. Two further singles, "Ocean Wide, Canyon Deep" and "All Night Long", were released in late November. Djesse, Vol. 1 was released in full on 7 December.[52] The volume features collaborations with Voces8, Laura Mvula, Hamid El Kasri, Take 6, and his mother, Suzie Collier. The Metropole Orkest featured heavily throughout the album, appearing on every track in addition to Collier's vocals and various instruments. Collier produced, arranged and orchestrated the music himself.

In January 2019, Collier began the Djesse World Tour. No longer a one-man-show, Collier is now backed by a band, including the Portuguese multi-instrumentalist Maro, bassist Robin Mullarkey, and drummer Christian Euman.[52][53]

The first single from Djesse Vol. 2, "Make Me Cry", was released on 12 April 2019.[54] On 26 April 2019, Collier released the second single from Djesse (Vol. 2), a cover of The Beatles' song "Here Comes The Sun" in collaboration with Dodie Clark. The third Vol. 2 single was released on 13 June 2019, an a cappella arrangement of "Moon River" by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer with over a hundred vocal contributions from family members, mentors, friends, and other Djesse collaborators.[55] The fourth and final single from Djesse Vol. 2, "It Don't Matter" featuring vocals of American singer-songwriter JoJo was released on 5 July 2019.

Djesse Vol. 2 was released on 19 July 2019, featuring cover artwork designed by Astrig Akseralian and further musical collaborations with Lianne La Havas, Oumou Sangaré, Chris Thile, Sam Amidon, Steve Vai, Kathryn Tickell, Becca Stevens, & MARO.[citation needed]

On 20 November 2019, Djesse Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 each garnered a nomination for the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, for "All Night Long" (feat. Take 6) and "Moon River" respectively.[56]

In November 2019, Collier announced the first single from Djesse Vol. 3, "Time Alone With You" in collaboration with Daniel Caesar, which was released on 29 November 2019.[57] The video for the song premiered on YouTube on 5 December.[58]

In November 2019, Collier also appeared on three songs on Coldplay's eighth studio album, Everyday Life, providing backing vocals for the tracks "Cry, Cry, Cry", "Everyday Life", and "Church".[59]

Collier will continue touring the world in 2020 starting with a new run of announced Djesse World Tour dates in Europe and North America for spring 2020.[59]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions


Contemporary Jazz



Classical Cross.

Folk Sales

In My Room 10 50 1 3
Djesse Vol. 1 (with the Metropole Orkest and Jules Buckley)
  • Released: 7 December 2018
  • Label: Hajanga Records, Geffen, Decca
  • Formats: CD, digital download
14 1 6 6 6
Djesse Vol. 2
  • Released: 19 July 2019
  • Label: Hajanga Records, Geffen, Decca
  • Formats: CD, digital download

Awards and nominations[edit]

Grammy Awards[edit]

Year Nominated Work Award Result Ref
2017 "You and I" Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella Won [67]
"Flintstones" Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals Won
2020 "Moon River" Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella Pending [56]
"All Night Long" Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals Pending

Jazz FM Awards[edit]

Year Nominated Work Category Result Ref
2016 Himself Breakout Artist of the Year Nominated [68]
Digital Initiative of the Year (Sponsored by 7digital) Won [68]
2019 PRS For Music Gold Award Won [69]

MOBO Awards[edit]

Year Nominated Work Category Result Ref
2016 Himself Best JAZZ Act Nominated [70]


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External links[edit]