Amazing Stories – Jacob Collier

The AWESOME! page has random music stuff that I think is cool. You never know what you will find here!

There are lots of amazing stories in music. Sometimes, I run across a story that I find particularly amazing – so much so, that I put them in the AWESOME! category. Here is the fourth of the ongoing series of Amazing Stories.

My daughter Elizabeth turned me on to an artist who is so amazingly talented, I had to feature him on the AWESOME page.

Jacob Collier is a British musician, singer, songwriter, producer and arranger – and you’ve never seen or heard anything like him. Born in 1994, his musical skills are self-taught. And…oh my…what skills he has. He is an excellent musician, adept at keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, other stringed instruments, and drums. But his vocal skills put him in a different place.

I supposed I’d call him a jazz artist, but that doesn’t really classify him right. Plenty of pop, funk, R&B in his music.

He is incredibly talented with arranging music, particularly the vocals of a song. He takes songs and sings them a cappella, using highly complex harmonies with himself and putting it all together into videos that can’t be described – they must be watched and heard. He began to upload his work onto YouTube in 2011. Soon, others took notice. Legendary record producer Quincy Jones discovered him in 2013 and brought him to the Montreux Jazz Festival that year for a meeting. In 2015, Collier was performing at the festival, opening for Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea.

In 2015, he collaborated with a PhD student at the MIT Media Lab to create an instrument called The Harmonizer, a synthesizer that allows the singer to harmonize with himself in real time. This allowed Collier to develop a live show that enabled him to utilize multi-voice harmonies while performing.

In 2016, his first album was released – In My Room. He performed every instrument and vocal on the album, producing it in his home.  Eight of the eleven songs on the album were written by Collier. The album also included covers of the Flintstones theme song, Stevie Wonder’s You and I, and the Beach Boys’ In My Room. In 2017, Collier won Grammy Awards in Best Arrangement categories for Flintstones and You and I. 

Three more albums followed, part of a planned four part series of albums called the Djessie series. They continued to include original work as well as highly creative covers. Djesse Vol. 1 includes a cover of Lionel Richie’s All Night Long and Djesse Vol. 2 includes a cover of the Mancini/Mercer classic Moon River – both won Grammy Awards for Best Arrangements in 2020.

2020’s Djesse Vol. 3 is nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, as well as two other Grammy nominations. No covers on this album – all songs are original. We’ll learn in March if he wins.

He is gaining steam – he has performed on most of the late night talk shows, and his YouTube channel has nearly 750,000 subscribers. There are so many videos that I’d like to link here. I’ll give you two. The first is 19 year old Collier performing all vocals and instruments on a cover of Stevie Wonder’s Don’t You Worry About A Thing, from 2013. The second is his Grammy winning All Night Long – I’m speechless after watching this video. These videos are simply stunning. Then, do yourself a favor and spend a few hours on YouTube watching the amazing creative talent of Jacob Collier. Be sure to watch Flintstones!

 

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