Antoine L Collins, lawyer turned entertainer, was born and raised outside of Chicago in Gary, Indiana. Although raised in the foster care system, he managed to escape the merry-go-round of foster homes that some children endure. One of the lucky ones, he thrived in a loving family environment, surrounded by music, theater, and the arts.
While studying at Indiana University Bloomington, Antoine began to explore and develop his artistic abilities. Subsequently, he went on to earn a Juris Doctorate from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago and spent several years working for the Baltimore City States Attorney’s office where he prosecuted child abuse and domestic violence cases. Later, he joined the Law firm of Semmes Bowen & Semmes, before starting his own firm of Collins & Harris, and being called to the Ontario Bar.
As his passion for the arts grew, Antoine put his legal career on hold, debuting in the Orpheus production of RENT in 2011 as a member of the ensemble and understudy for the role of Tom Collins. After moving to Tel Aviv, he burst into Israel’s English Language Theater as Seaweed J. Stubbs in Hairspray, followed by Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, and as Richie Walters in A Chorus Line.
In the spring of 2015, Antoine appeared as Benjamin Coffin III in a concert version of RENT, at the renowned Habima 4 stage in Tel-Aviv, before reprising the role in Starcatcher’s production of RENT in Jerusalem.
Returning to Ottawa, Antoine reprised the role of Richie Walters in the Orpheus production of A Chorus Line in the spring of 2016. Currently, he is preparing to kick-off a series of live concerts and jazz festival appearances to promote his debut jazz album Somewhere Along The Way and is starting work on his second full-length album with producer Phillip Victor Bova entitled Nature Boy – The music of Nat “King” Cole.
A modern-day crooner with a baritone register Antoine draws inspiration from many jazz, blues and soul greats: Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Chet Baker, Joe Cocker, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., Count Basie, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, Mel Tormé, Van Morrison, Michael Bublé, Harry Connick Jr., Steve Tyrell – the list goes on and on.
Many people don’t realize that the Jazz music genre originated in the African-American communities of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The genre ranges from ragtime to present day jazz stylings with its heavy use of improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, swing note, blue notes, brass, European harmony and American popular music, and continues to develop a sound and feel all of its own.
Antoine’s distinctive vocal style is perfectly complemented by a very talented group of musicians: double bassist Guy Levi, Saxophone player Kobi Salomon, drummer Roi Oliel and jazz pianist Asaf Finkelstein. The group’s tremendous creativity, interaction and collaboration really brings to life Antoine’s debut album “Somewhere Along The Way.”
Antoine is very passionate about his sophomore project Nature Boy – The Music of Nat “King” Cole. “Because NKC was such a masterful storyteller, the songs featured in this project address universal themes, as well as deeply personal, struggles, hopes, loves, regrets, and fears. I tend to take the listener on an emotional and spiritual journey through the experiences of life. These songs are imbued with such emotion and spiritual feeling that the stories they tell will resonate deeply today among a new generation as well as veteran jazz and NKC lovers.” He hopes to share, through NKC’s music, the awe he experiences whenever he listens to songs such as My Funny Valentine or Nature Boy. For Antoine, expressing these stories musically is what being a jazz singer is all about and in retelling them in his own voice he strives to bring them to life for a new generation!
NATURE BOY is a tribute album to the late Nat King Cole. Whenever one hears a Nat King Cole song it awakens powerful emotions of passion, pleasure, and sometimes melancholy. Almost every Canadian jazz artist – indeed almost every jazz artist in the world – has been influenced or touched by Mr. Cole’s smooth vocal and piano stylings.
The songs chosen for this record address universal, as well as deeply personal, struggles, hopes, loves, regrets and fears. NATURE BOY is my effort as an artist to share again with the world these intimate insights on life.