Born in a Barn With Vanessa Collier

Words and Interview by Rob Nicholson

“There’s a young lady [Vanessa Collier] came onstage with me, I forget where I was, but she’s playing an alto saxophone, and man, she was amazing.” Those are the words of Buddy Guy in an issue of “American Blues Scene,” describing an impromptu performance with Vanessa Collier on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise.

If you haven’t been fortunate enough to see Collier perform and witness one of her head-turning, fiery and passionate performances, you should definitely make sure you do. She’s playing live in Jacksonville Beach on Feb. 11 at the Blue Jay Listening Room. As a master musician and multi-instrumentalist, Vanessa Collier, weaves funk, soul, rock and blues into every powerful performance. With soulful vocals, searing saxophone, and clever songwriting, Vanessa is blazing a trail, racking up an impressive arsenal of honors along the way, and has already singled herself out as an artist of distinction and one we would all do well to watch.

With Collier, the proof is in the pudding. She’s won three Blues Music Awards, two for “Horn Player of the Year” in 2019 and 2020 and one last year  for “Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year. Since 2017, Vanessa has been nominated for eight Blues Music Awards which has put her in some elite company with artists like Samantha Fish, Trombone Shorty and Jimmy Carpenter.

Midwest Record described her sound this way: “This bluesy singing sax player knows how to bring the slinking funk to her captivating, award-winning sound that has echoes in young Bonnie Raitt/Maria Muldaur vocal sounds … Killer stuff on every level, this sounds like one of the reasons you first became a music fan.” With declaring: “[she] might as well go ahead and add another shelf to her trophy case because clearly, she’s going to need it. With a voice that often recalls that of blues-rock stalwart Bonnie Raitt, Collier turns up the heat …”

Collier said she’s happy performing on stages across the world, hoping she can make a difference with fans and followers along the way. “I am driven to do this because I find it a total form of expression and connection,” she explained. “I love connecting with an audience and feeling their energy, and I hope to inspire people to follow their dreams and passions, to find what brings them joy, and then to pursue it doggedly.”

We spoke to Carol Sheehan sits in regularly on the Tuesday Night Music Jams at the Blue Jay Listening Room and she says the Blue Jay is a musician’s venue. Big names will stop by often because it is a listening room. She says the room is conducive to relaxing while lounging on couches and chairs plus there is a bar. But no talking during performances!

Watch Interview Here