Collier stands out in a crowd with his trademark cowboy hat. But
it's the sound of the tall, sturdy troubadour's music that has magnetized
listeners across the land. Today with the technological ease of CD
recording and internet communication, Collier can bring his music to fans
without leaving his ranch in rural Mariposa. That
wasn't always the case.
For many years Collier went on the road to favor
audiences across America and Canada with his
smile, his irrepressible sense of humor, and his
music. In his heyday, he opened for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
appearing on Sesame Street and played Carnegie Hall.
Born in Fort Smith, Ark., Collier was raised by his
grandparents, both of whom loved music. He remembers his grandmother
playing the piano on Sundays with all of his relatives gathered around and
singing their hearts out. His grandfather
even created his own musical instruments and played nearly anything.
"I grew up with a lot of instruments around, and
. . . In high school he expanded his musical
repertoire by singing with doo wop groups and playing the saxophone,
guitar and drums . . . early 60's Collier became a folk singer . . .
recording music with Folk Ways Records . . . Several years ago the
recordings were purchased by the government and are now in the Library
of Congress. . . Collier also did concerts for schools from elementary age
through college level.
During this time his music of choice began to shift
from simply folk music to a blend called folk rock. Forming several
bands he traveled extensively along the East Cost touring the colleges
there . . . opening for Pete Seeger, played in the Astrodome and Madison
Square Gardens, and also had a stint on Sesame Street . . . Collier's
adventures continued to take him all over the place . . . finally ending
up in California where he . . . married . . .raised children . . . moved
to Mariposa. . . became actively involved in his community, playing in a
band called Two for One.
. . . When his grandchildren came along, he wanted
to record something more modern for them to remember him by. A
veteran of the music industry, Collier decided to do as much of the
recording process locally as he could and discovered that the resources
were available to do the entire CD through local businesses. So,
teaming up with musicians Curtis Wright and Bruce Chan . . . recorded a
collection of gospel folk, country and blues music entitled "Everybody's
Somebody." Future plans include . . .
producing a CD for children. -Krista Bjorn, Sun-Star
reporter Friday August 24, 2001