Saxophonist Vanessa Collier has gotten used to hearing that she doesn’t play “like a girl.” She’s good. She plays “like a boy,” she’s been told.She doesn’t let it bother her.
“I didn’t feel like I ever had to play ‘like a boy,’ because what I had to offer was powerful all by itself,” Collier, 24, says. “I think it’s important to be myself and to help to shatter illusions about what to expect from a girl.”
With that in mind, Collier, resident of Philadelphia, who also sings and writes music, developed her style by mixing blues with rock, funk and soul. Collier didn’t begin her career as a bandleader. In 2012 and 2013, she toured with blues guitarist and vocalist Joe Louis Walker, playing saxophone and percussion in his band.
“It just happened on one of those gigs when I was like, ‘This is really great, and I can do this for the rest of my life, but I really want to try and be an artist and see what I can do with this,'” Collier recalls.
“We’re a very high-energy kind of band,” she says. “All four of them are fantastic musicians, and we all really love to entertain a crowd, and deliver the music that makes people happy.”
She says her mother thought her not to let others’ expectations of her affect the way she performs in sports, music and life.
“While that seems very subtle, I think it was an important message,” she says. “I kind of feel like my feminine strength is a secret weapon. When I walk onstage, I have strength and grace and passion and confidence, and I can rock it with anyone, anytime.”