Ottawa-based Antoine L Collins recorded his independently-released debut LP, Somewhere Along The Way, in Tel Aviv, Israel in 2015. With soulful, R&B-inspired takes on traditional standards, including “I Put A Spell On You” and “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child”, its 2016 title track video gained notice internationally through Queerty as “A Queer Twist On Love And Loss In This Gorgeous Jazz Video.“
Building on his initial creative success, Antoine recently recorded Nature Boy: The Music of Nat King Cole, produced and imaginatively arranged by Phillip Victor Bova, founder of Ottawa’s legendary Bovasound Studio. Its independent-release celebrated the legacy of Nat King Cole, a global cultural icon who left an indelible mark on jazz and popular song. In producing the album, Bova assembled a stellar roster of diverse talent to complement Antoine’s warm vocal tones.
Nature Boy delivers inspired reinventions of some of Cole’s top-charting hits. Antoine describes the project as “…more than a tribute album. It’s a celebration of an outstanding musician who left an everlasting mark on the world of jazz. Nat King Cole songs often awaken powerful emotions of passion, pleasure, and sometimes melancholy, the songs on this record address universal, as well as deeply personal, struggles, hopes, loves, regrets and fears.”
Antoine L Collins, lawyer turned jazz singer/songwriter/entertainer, was born on the outskirts of Chicago in Gary, Indiana. Although raised in the state’s foster care system, he managed to escape the merry-go-round of foster homes that many children endure. As a young attorney, he prosecuted child abuse and domestic violence cases for the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, before returning to his artistic roots by pursuing music and theatre full-time. Antoine became a Canadian Citizen in 2014.
His recent sold-out vocal performances include: Tavern On The Falls (supporting Ottawa’s Capital Pride), the 2018 TD Ottawa Jazz Festival, Brookstreet Hotel, his Mercury Lounge Album Release Concert, a US Embassy Ottawa Black History Month Celebration, and the 2018 Ottawa Gay Men’s Chorus Cabaret. In addition to Jazz performances, he has an impressive musical theatre resume which includes: Ragtime, A Chorus Line, RENT, Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray.
Additionally, Antoine L Collins is helping to raise awareness for sexual minority refugees in 2018 by donating a portion of the proceeds from his live shows and records sales to Capital Rainbow Refuge an Ottawa-based charity providing safe haven in Canada for sexual minority refugees fleeing from dangerous situations around the world.
Currently, Antoine is busy promoting his new record and writing original jazz songs for his next project. Whether recording in the studio, performing musical theatre or live jazz concerts, Antoine’s exudes positive energy through his personality, style, warmth and romantic baritone vocals. He welcomes future opportunities to showcase his music in support of a more enlightened and inclusive community.
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 2015 debut album “Somewhere Along The Way.”
Nature Boy – The Music of Nat “King” Cole, is Antoine’s sophomore project. “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.
Antoine is very passionate about his current project, “L” which is the working title for his first collection of original jazz songs. “By focusing for the first time on song writing, I hope to convey my own insights into the human experience, drawing from the daunting personal challenges which I face as a musician and as a gay black male who grew up in the foster care system. I want to use my own stories to express the universal emotions of life, loss, longing and love.
For Antoine, expressing these stories musically is what being a jazz singer is all about and in retelling them he strives to bring them to life for a new generation!
Conceived as a celebration of the incomparable Nat King Cole, Antoine’s new recording, Nature Boy: The Music of Nat King Cole, is far more than a tribute album. Produced by acclaimed Producer/Arranger Phillip Victor Bova, Antoine’s new album refreshes the powerful emotions of passion, pleasure, humor and melancholy in Nat King Cole’s most beloved songs, and revisits his many deeply personal messages of struggle, hope, love and regret. Fittingly, Antoine chose to salute the late Nat King Cole on his 99th birthday with a sold-out album release party on March 17, 2018!
Antoine recounts: “As a singer, I try to interpret classic songs using my own personality and inner compass to make them live again for new generations of listeners and musicians. For me, that is what recording Nature Boy was all about. As a musician who has faced my own personal challenges, I always turn to music to find the awe and insight from our human experiences to help me carry on. Whenever I sing, I try to offer this kind of inspiration to others. I loved these songs even as a young man, and in recording new arrangements with Phillip Victor Bova, I sought to breathe new life into them for a new generation, while still conveying the essential emotion and joy of Cole’s original works.”