The singer and saxophonist celebrates her new album with a live performance
As a master musician and multi-instrumentalist, rising blues star Vanessa Collier weaves funk, soul, rock, and blues into every powerful performance, something that she’ll have on full display in concert at The Birchmere on Aug. 23.
Collier has also just released her new CD, “Heart on the Line,” showing off her incredible sax playing and vocals.
“It’s mostly originals with eight of the 11 songs being songs I wrote and arranged,” she said. “One is a Bonnie Raitt song, ‘I Don’t Want Anything to Change,’ which I really love.”
The songs she wrote are personal stories and she’s been working on putting out this album for a couple of years, and is happy that it’s finally getting out to her fans. Those same fans helped finance the record, with 239 supporting it via crowdfunding for a total of $25,000.
At the Birchmere, Collier will be celebrating the album’s release in her only live audience performance. This show will be an intimate performance, with Collier sharing stories of her songwriting and performing many fan favorite songs as well as songs from the new album.
“I’m very excited to get out there in a socially distant way,” she said. “My record release was supposed to be in May, but with everything going on, we pushed it to August 21, so it will be a little album release celebration.”
She had previously released three critically acclaimed albums—2014’s “Heart, Soul & Saxophone”; 2017’s “Meeting My Shadow”; and 2018’s “Honey Up.” The latter of which climbed the Billboard Charts and spent three months on the Living Blues Report.
Many fan favorites will be played at the concert, along with some of her most notable covers.
“This is my first concert since the pandemic; my last show was March 13,” Collier said. “It’s going to be something of a little dynamic. It’s going to be a little like at the beginning of my career when I was playing the smaller clubs, because you’ll see less people. But I’m not worried about it. I feel like everyone needs more music at this time—including myself—and I’m very excited to have this opportunity.”
Growing up in nearby Columbia, Md., the musician first picked up the saxophone at the age of nine, and quickly showed her prowess on the instrument. She attended the Berklee College of Music, earning dual degrees in performance and music production.
After college, Collier started touring with Joe Louis Walker before the blues great encouraged her to strike out on her own. She quickly took the blues world by storm, winning Blues Music Awards for Horn Player of the Year (2019 and 2020) and taking home multiple awards for her songwriting.
Before COVID hit, she was performing regularly and loved being on the live stage, which is why she is so looking forward to The Birchmere gig. Plus, it’s been a venue she’s long dreamed about playing.
“I am driven to do this because I find it a total form of expression and connection,” she said. “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.”
Collier is also active with Blues in the Schools programs, which helps educate youngsters about music. She loves introducing blues music to kids and seeing them get interested in the genre.
Since the pandemic, Collier has been spending her time playing more, switching up instruments and writing when she can. She’s also been listening to a lot more records and think about what’s to come next. For instance, she’s planning a video project that she hopes to have some musical guest artists on.
“For now, I’m excited to get back on stage,” Collier said. “I’m definitely looking forward to sharing my music again.”
Those interested in attending The Birchmere performance can visit birchmere.com. Tickets are $25 and the show begins at 7:30 p.m.