- Eleanor Collins, a pioneering jazz vocalist, is the subject of a new Canada Post stamp.
- The 102-year-old jazz legend has already received an Order of Canada and a star in British Columbia’s Entertainment Hall of Fame.
Eleanor Collins, a trailblazing jazz singer, is the subject of a new stamp from Canada Post.
The stamp honoring the “Canadian First Lady of Jazz” was unveiled in an online ceremony on Friday, ahead of Black History Month, to pay homage to her life and legacy.
“What am I thinking? I’m thrilled and honored. “During the ceremony, Collins said. “It means a lot to have someone affirm your work and life on a postage stamp. There is only one word to describe it. That’s incredible.”
The 102-year-old jazz legend has already been honored with an Order of Canada and a star in the Entertainment Hall of Fame of British Columbia.
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“You don’t expect to be remembered at 102 years old, do you? However, I am grateful, “she stated.
Collins, born in Edmonton to parents of African American and Indigenous ancestry, began her career as a singer at the age of 15 after winning a local talent show. She moved to British Columbia in the late 1930s and immersed herself in the jazz scene.
Collins has worked with everyone from Montreal jazz pianist Oscar Peterson to American jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie on TV and radio throughout her career.
Collins chose to stay in Canada despite the chances to take her talents to the United States. She made history as the first Black woman to star in a television show in North America when she starred in “The Eleanor Show” in 1955.
Alan Matheson, a jazz musician, has long admired Collins and even performed with her at a concert in the 1980s.
“The first thought that comes to thought is this beautiful vocal audio that she has,” he told CTV News. “But also her impressive versatility and sparkle as a performer.”
“Whether she was singing Broadway show tunes, folk music, or jazz standards, it didn’t matter. She sounded exactly like herself at all times.”
Krystle Dos Santos, a singer-songwriter, calls her an inspiration, describing her voice as “an absolute classic voice for jazz.”
“She is an absolute icon to me,” she told CTV News, “and she has broken much more ground for Black female Canadian musicians as well as Black females in general in this country.”
Collins, despite her success, was subjected to both professional and personal discrimination. When Collins and her husband and children moved to an all-white Burnaby neighborhood in the 1940s, neighbors launched an unsuccessful petition to prevent them from settling there.
“When you’re asked to leave your neighborhood, you have to have a whole different kind of character to be capable of living through moments like that,” Dos Santos said.
“She is a strong woman. She is gifted. She can persevere. She is a lady of distinction.”
Source: CTV News
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