Vanessa Collier

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Vanessa Collier
Vanessa Collier - Trinidaddio Blues Fest 2018 - Trinidad Colorado.jpg
Performing at the Trinidaddio Blues Fest 2018 - Trinidad Colorado
Background information
Birth nameVanessa N. Collier
BornClarksville, Maryland, United States
GenresBlues, pop rock, neo soul[1]
Occupation(s)Saxophonist, singer, songwriter
InstrumentsSaxophone, clavinet, flute, electric organ, percussion, vocals[2]
Years active2012–present
LabelsPhenix Fire Records, Ruf Records

Vanessa N. Collier is an American blues, pop rock, and neo soul saxophonist, singer and songwriter. She has been nominated for three Blues Music Awards.[3][4]

Her influences include the Isley Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Seal, Jill Scott, John Legend, Laura Izibor, Norah Jones, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, and Cannonball Adderley.[5] Collier is a Selmer endorsed woodwind artist.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Collier was born in Clarksville, Maryland, United States. Her interest in blues music started at the age of 11, when she played a solo on her saxophone over a blues recording.[5] Collier later earned dual degrees in Performance and Music Production and Engineering at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts,[1] graduating in 2013.[6] She then learned stage craft by touring in the U.S. and internationally backing Joe Louis Walker between 2012 and 2013.[3][7][8] This led to work playing alongside Annie Lennox, Kathy Mattea, and Willie Nelson.[1]

In 2014, Collier issued her debut solo album, Heart Soul & Saxophone. The work drew comparisons to artists including the Tedeschi Trucks Band and Bonnie Raitt.[1] The album was declared as "magnificent" on Dan Aykroyd's blues radio show.[3] Her backing band on the recording comprised several former Berklee students. The album consisted of five Collier compositions and four cover versions. The former included "Bad News Bears" which was dedicated to a fellow saxophone player, Max Cowan, who had died at a young age. The album's finale was a cover of James Morrison's "Right by Your Side". However, one music journalist noted "this album only really intersects with the blues on a few occasions".[9] The interest the release generated resulted in Collier having her national debut tour in late 2014.[7]

She followed this by becoming a top-three finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, and reached the finals of the 2016 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.[10]

In 2017, she released her second album, Meeting My Shadow, on Ruf Records.[1] It had eight Collier compositions, plus cover versions of U2's "When Love Comes to Town"; Deadric Malone's "You're Gonna Make Me Cry"; and the Sister Rosetta Tharpe penned song "Up Above My Head, I Hear Music in the Air".[11] The album was co-produced by Kevin Houston and her studio musicians included Charles Hodges on keyboards.[10] The release saw her tour in 11 countries, alternating between tour legs in Europe as a featured artist with Ruf’s Blues Caravan, and returning to the U.S. and Canada with her own backing band.[3] She also performed at the Briggs Farm Blues Festival in Pennsylvania.[12]

Collier was nominated in 2017 for a Blues Music Award in the 'Instrumental – Horn Player of the Year' category. She then undertook the second leg of her 2017 European tour with Ruf Records' Blues Caravan.[7] Collier also teaches around 30 students at her own studio and is active in the Blues Foundation's 'Blues in the Schools' programs.[3]

In 2018, Collier was nominated in two categories at that year's Blues Music Awards; 'Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year' and 'Instrumental – Horn Player of the Year'. The same year she performed with her backing ensemble at Buddy Guy's Legends club in Chicago, Illinois.[13] In November 2018, Collier is scheduled to perform at the Forgotten Music Festival in Mexico Beach, Florida.[14]


Year Title Record label
2014 Heart Soul & Saxophone Phenix Fire Records
2017 Meeting My Shadow Ruf Records
2017 Blues Caravan 2017 Ruf Records
2018 Honey Up American Showplace Music



  1. ^ a b c d e "Vanessa Collier - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  2. ^ "Meeting My Shadow - Vanessa Collier - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Bio". Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  4. ^ "BREAKING: 2018 Blues Music Award nominees announced: Taj Mahal, Mavis Staples, Keb' Mo', N. Mississippi Allstars among nominees. - Blues Foundation". Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Vanessa Collier biography -". Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  6. ^ "Vanessa N. Collier : CV" (PDF). Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "Vanessa Collier Blues Band - Biscuits and Blues". Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  8. ^ Gerbasi, Thomas (January 30, 2018). "Vanessa Collier and the magic of the blues". Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  9. ^ "Vanessa Collier – Heart Soul & Saxophone - Album Review". Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Meeting My Shadow - Ruf Records Shop". Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  11. ^ "Meeting My Shadow - Vanessa Collier - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  12. ^ "IF YOU GO TO SEE VANESSA COLLIER, 'BE PREPARED TO FEEL SOMETHING' - Highway 81 Revisited". July 15, 2017. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  13. ^ "Pick of the Week: Vanessa Collier – The Iridium". Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  14. ^ "Home - Mexico Beach, FL - Forgotten Music Festival". Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  15. ^ "Vanessa Collier". Discogs. Retrieved May 30, 2018.

External links[edit]