Q&A: Vanessa Collier

I interviewed musician Vanessa Collier about her new album “Honey Up” and performing with Annie Lennox and Willie Nelson.

Talk about your childhood, where you grew up, etc

I was born in Texas. We were only there for a few years or so  before we moved to Pennsylvania and then later on Maryland. I lived there from around third grade to my Freshman year of college. That’s where I learned to play the saxophone.

I was really fortunate to have so many music teachers and band leaders help me kick start my career along the way.

When did you know you wanted to be a musician?

Pretty early. I think it was in sixth grade Jazz band. I was pretty young so my dream was to be a Jazz player, WNBA player, AND restaurant owner all at the same time. We had to narrow that down ::laughs::

Who inspires you?

There’s quite a few people. B.B. King is one of my biggest influences. Not just musically, but definitely personally as well. He loved his fans and would stick around as long as possible for people who wanted to see him after a gig. He had a sense of community around his shows. That’s what I go for. Sadly, I never got to a show of his.

Bonnie Raitt is one of my favorites. I love her voice..mix of New Orleans, funk, and soul. And Annie Lennox. She’s an incredible performer and she’s a force to be reckoned with.

I read that you performed with Annie Lennox. How did that come about?

That was at Berklee. During my four years, I got to play with a ton of musicians. At our commencement concert, they give honorary Doctorates. The year I graduated, they went to Annie Lennox, Willie Nelson, and Carole King. It can’t get any better than that ::laughs:: I happened to be in the band to play with them. It was incredible.

What is your favorite part of performing live?

The transference of energy between you and the crowd. On a REALLY great night, you can feel electricity in the room and it livens everyone. Just being able to connect in that environment. I feel like we live in a society where we tend to shelter ourselves. I try and create an environment where we feel like a community.

Why did you decide to offer saxophones lessons on your website?

It’s really important to me. Private lessons really helped me in areas that band practice didn’t. I was able to find niche things that I really really liked. So I wanted to give back to the community that fostered my love of music.

What is your favorite song off of “Honey Up” and why?

That’s such a tough question. I wrote nine out of ten of those songs. ::laughs:: I think “The Fault Line” is one of my favorites. We all come from different backgrounds, have different opinions, have different values, but at the end of the day we should come together and be able to accept everyone’s differences.

Are you excited about your show at The Hamilton on August 15th?

Definitely yeah! ::laughs:: I’ve been hearing rumors for a long time of how awesome the room is.

Vanessa plays The Hamilton in DC on August 15th!

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