Jacob Collier (//; né Moriarty; born 2 August 1994) is a British musician and producer. His music incorporates elements from many musical genres, and often features extreme use of reharmonisation and close harmony. He is also known for his energetic live performances, in which he often conducts the audience to sing multiple-part harmonies or percussions.
|Birth name||Jacob Moriarty|
|Born||2 August 1994|
North London, England
In 2012, his split-screen video covers of popular songs, such as Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing", began to go viral on YouTube. In 2014, Collier signed to Quincy Jones' management company and began working on his one-man, audio-visual live performance vehicle, designed and built at the MIT Media Lab by Ben Bloomberg.
In 2016, Collier released his debut album, In My Room, which he recorded, arranged, performed and produced himself in the small back room of his family home in Finchley, north London. In 2017, Collier was awarded Grammy Awards for his arrangements of "Flintstones" and "You and I".
In 2018, Collier began working on Djesse, a four-volume, 50-song album featuring more than two dozen artists and ensembles. The first volume, which features the Metropole Orkest, Djesse Vol. 1, was released in December 2018. The second, Djesse Vol. 2, uses more acoustic instrumentation, and was released in July 2019. In 2020, Collier won Grammy Awards for his arrangements of "All Night Long (All Night)" from Djesse Vol. 1 and "Moon River" from Djesse Vol. 2. The third volume, Djesse Vol. 3, which Collier describes as being based in electronic sounds, was released on 14 August 2020. In 2021, he won a Grammy Award for "He Won't Hold You" from this album.
Collier is the first British artist to receive a Grammy Award for each of his first four albums.
Collier grew up in north London, raised with two younger sisters by his parents, who separated in 2004. His mother, Susan Collier, is a violinist, conductor, and professor at the Royal Academy of Music's Junior Academy. Collier's maternal grandfather, Derek Collier, was a violinist who also taught at the Royal Academy and performed with orchestras around the world. Collier says, "We sing Bach chorales together as family – it's just so much fun." Collier is partly of Chinese descent, through his maternal grandmother, Lila Wong.
At age 10 he portrayed Tiny Tim in Arthur Allan Seidelman's A Christmas Carol. At the same time, Collier was also performing as a treble singer in classical roles such as one of the three boys in Mozart's The Magic Flute and "Miles" in Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw, the latter of which heavily influenced his usage and understanding of harmony. Of Britten's harmonic language, Collier says, "my mind was shattered outwards." Collier received the ABRSM Gold Medal for the highest mark in the country for his grade eight singing result in 2008.
Collier began uploading homemade, multi-instrumental content to YouTube in 2011, releasing vocal arrangements of "Pure Imagination" from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, and in 2013, a multi-instrumental rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing". His activity caught the attention of Quincy Jones, who flew Collier out to the Montreux Jazz Festival where they met and then met with Herbie Hancock.
Around this time, Ben Bloomberg, a PhD student at the MIT Media Lab, contacted Collier regarding the creation and development of musical hardware and software for live performance. Over the following months, he and Collier constructed a multimedia live experience.
In 2015, Collier launched a live show, touring Europe and the US. The performance featured a circle of musical instruments, with six simultaneous looping stations capable of simultaneous playback, backed by synced real-time 3D-captured video loops, projected onto a screen behind the instruments, courtesy of Louis Mustill and William Young of Artists and Engineers. Central to the show was a custom-built vocal "Harmonizer" instrument that Collier designed and created with Bloomberg, which enabled Collier to perform multi-voice harmonies in real-time. The show debuted at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London. A few weeks later, Collier opened for Hancock and Chick Corea at the 2015 Montreux Jazz Festival.
2015–2018: In My Room, World Tour, and #IHarmUEdit
In July 2015, Beats by Dr. Dre reached out to Collier to provide the music for 'The Game Starts Here' England Rugby World Cup campaign. Collier recorded an a cappella version of the hymn "Jerusalem" for the commercial, which aired on national television before each England match.
In late 2015, Collier began preparing his debut album In My Room, after performing with WDR Big Band in a concert in Cologne, Germany. He arranged, recorded and produced the album himself, playing every instrument. He wrote eight of the eleven tunes. He recorded and mixed the album over three months in the music room of his family home. It was mastered by Bernie Grundman, and released on 1 July 2016 through the independent record label Membran Entertainment Group. Following the release, Collier embarked on a one-man world tour including the 2016 Montreux Jazz Festival.
In anticipation of the release, Collier launched the "#IHarmU" campaign through Patreon, where 100 patrons sent him 15-second video clips of melodies, which he harmonised with multiple vocal parts with his multi-screen layout, and uploaded to social media. Collier received more than 130 melodies and donations, including from British jazz artist Jamie Cullum, Ben Folds, Herbie Hancock, and Kevin Olusola of the a cappella group Pentatonix, arranging "White Christmas" for them, which appeared on A Pentatonix Christmas, which won a Contemporary A Cappella Society award.
In February 2016, Collier was featured on Snarky Puppy's album, Family Dinner – Volume 2. On 22 August, Collier took part in a Quincy Jones tribute concert at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall in London, in which he performed his own orchestral arrangement of his original song "In The Real Early Morning" with the Metropole Orkest, conducted by Jules Buckley, among other songs.
In December 2016, Collier collaborated with 150 students at MIT to produce a 10 December live concert in Kresge Auditorium titled "Imagination Off the Charts", playing alongside orchestral arrangements of his repertoire. This residency was the subject of a documentary film, Imagination Off The Charts, which won a regional Emmy in June 2018.
In February 2017, Collier won two Grammy Awards: Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella for the Stevie Wonder song "You and I" and Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals for a cover of "Flintstones". One month later he made his US television debut on The Tavis Smiley Show performing a rendition of "You And I" with jazz-gospel a cappella group Take 6. That year Collier recomposed Samsung's signature ringtone, "Over The Horizon", for the new Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+, and was co-producer on two songs from Becca Stevens album, Regina. Collier helped score DreamWorks' film The Boss Baby with composer Hans Zimmer. The following month, Collier performed with Zimmer and Pharrell Williams at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. In April, Collier was a guest on the daily weekday talk show Harry, and a speaker at the annual TED conference in Vancouver, Canada. On 10 November 2017, the album Jazz Loves Disney 2, on which Collier performs a cover of "Under the Sea", was released.
Collier toured internationally for two and a half years (between 1 July 2015 and 18 December 2017), while hosting masterclasses and performances with orchestras and big bands around the world, including the Metropole Orkest. On 9 July, he and Cory Henry performed again with the Metropole Orkest and Jules Buckley at the North Sea Jazz Festival. In December 2017, Collier collaborated with American Pop/R&B singer Tori Kelly to record an a cappella YouTube video cover of the Christmas song "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas".
In December 2017, Collier announced that the One-Man-Show's final performance would be in Rome on 18 December 2017. He discussed plans for a second album, to be recorded in 2018.
In July 2018, Collier was one of the surprise guests at Quincy Jones' 85th birthday party celebrations, at the Montreux Jazz Club.
On 19 July, "Jacob Collier and Friends" took the stage for a special concert as part of the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Collier performed alongside the Metropole Orkest under conductor Jules Buckley, and invited Take 6, Sam Amidon, Becca Stevens, and Maalem Gnawa musician Hamid El Kasri.
On 29 October 2018, Collier announced a new four-volume, 50-song musical project, titled Djesse.
Following a one-week residency at MIT, Djesse (Vol. 1) premiered live in Kresge Auditorium on 8 December 2018. The concert featured his performance with the MIT JC Orchestra (composed of MIT and Berklee College musicians), MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, MIT Vocal Jazz Ensemble, MIT Concert Choir and Chamber Chorus, Rambax MIT (Senegalese drumming ensemble), mother Suzie Collier and other guests from Boston and Los Angeles.
The first single of the Djesse project, "With The Love in My Heart", was released on 2 November. Two further singles, "Ocean Wide, Canyon Deep" and "All Night Long", were released in late November. Djesse Vol. 1 was released in full on 7 December. The volume features collaborations with Voces8, Laura Mvula, Hamid El Kasri, Take 6, and his mother, Suzie Collier. The Metropole Orkest appeared on every track. Collier produced, arranged and orchestrated the music, in addition to singing and playing various instruments.
The first single from Djesse Vol. 2, "Make Me Cry", was released on 12 April 2019. On 26 April, Collier released the second single from the album, a cover of The Beatles' song "Here Comes The Sun" in collaboration with Dodie Clark. The third Vol. 2 single was released on 13 June, an a cappella arrangement of "Moon River" by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer with over a hundred vocal contributions from family members, mentors, friends, and other collaborators. The fourth and final single from Djesse Vol. 2, "It Don't Matter" featuring vocals of American singer-songwriter JoJo was released on 5 July.
Djesse Vol. 2 was released on 19 July 2019, featuring cover artwork by Astrig Akseralian and further musical collaborations with Lianne La Havas, Oumou Sangaré, Chris Thile, Sam Amidon, Steve Vai, Kathryn Tickell, Becca Stevens and Maro.
Collier was scheduled to continue touring in 2020, before the tour was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 25 March 2020, Collier released the second single from Djesse Vol. 3, "In My Bones". Three further singles, "All I Need", "He Won't Hold You" and "Running Outta Love" were released later that year, leading up to the release of the album. Djesse Vol. 3 was released in full on 14 August 2020. The album features collaborations with Jessie Reyez, T-Pain, Kimbra, Tank and the Bangas, Daniel Caesar, Mahalia, Ty Dolla $ign, Kiana Ledé, Tori Kelly, and Rapsody.
In the weeks leading up to and following the release of Djesse Vol. 3, Collier performed songs from the album on various TV and radio shows. This included performances of "All I Need" with Mahalia and Ty Dolla $ign on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and with Mahalia on Later... with Jools Holland; a performance of "Running Outta Love" with Tori Kelly on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert; and a three-song set for a Tiny Desk Concert, performed from Collier's home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, on 13 January 2021, Collier and Mahalia performed "All I Need" on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. On 26 January 2021, Collier performed "Sleeping On My Dreams" on The Late Late Show with James Corden.
On 20 November 2020, Collier released an a capella arrangement of "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)". A week later, he released the book Songs of Jacob Collier, which includes arrangements for solo piano and voice of 19 of his songs. It was arranged by Collier and June Lee, with editing done by Lee and Nahre Sol.
On 1 January 2021, Collier released a voice memo recording of an original song "The Sun Is In Your Eyes". The memo was originally recorded in 2019, and a studio recording attempt was disregarded for in favor of the original phone recording. Another version of the song premiered in a TED Connects livestream on 10 April 2020.
At the 2021 Grammy Awards, Djesse Vol. 3 was nominated for the Album of the Year, with the award going to Taylor Swift's Folklore; "All I Need" was nominated for the Best R&B Performance; and "He Won’t Hold You" won the Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals. With this award, Collier became the first British artist to win a Grammy Award for each of his first four albums.
Musical style and influencesEdit
Coming from a family of musicians, Collier was introduced to music at a very early age. With the support of his mother, he learnt to play various instruments and began teaching himself musical theory. His recording career began in his family home, in a room filled with instruments that his mother used to teach violin lessons. There, he recorded himself singing and playing instruments – usually covers of folk or pop songs – and filmed himself to create visualisations to upload to YouTube. These recordings often featured extreme uses of reharmonisation, close harmony, dissonance, microtonality and polyrhythms, all relatively complex and uncommon concepts in popular music. Some of these incursions were aided by Collier's rare ability to recognise musical notes by ear, called absolute pitch.
His music style is notably eclectic. His first studio album In My Room, in which he harmonized with himself and played every instrument, features experimental jazz, pop, funk and an a capella cover of Stevie Wonder's You And I which earned him a Grammy award. Djesse Vol. 1, featuring the Metropole Orkest, includes jazz fusion, classical, and a Gnawa song with Hamid El Kasri. Djesse Vol. 2 also features Wassoulou, R&B, folk and rock, with appearances from Lianne La Havas, Chris Thile, Oumou Sangaré and Steve Vai. Djesse Vol. 3 focuses on a more accessible sound, including R&B, EDM, pop and neo soul, featuring other artists such as T-Pain, Daniel Caesar and Tori Kelly.
Collier has described the intention in the sound of each Djesse volume in accordance of the space around the sound or the distance from the listener. Djesse Vol. 1 features acoustic and orchestral sound from a distance; Djesse Vol. 2 features acoustic sound from a cozier, smaller distance; Djesse Vol. 3 features negative distance or space, with the use of electronics; and Djesse Vol. 4 will feature the re-emergence of distance.
|Title||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|In My Room||10||50||1||3||—||—||—|
|Djesse Vol. 1 (with the Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley)||14||—||1||6||6||6||—|
|Djesse Vol. 2||
|Djesse Vol. 3||
|"—" denotes items which were not released in that country or failed to chart.|
|"Don't You Worry 'bout a Thing"||2013||Stevie Wonder|||
|"Fascinating Rhythm"||2014||George Gershwin,
Ira Gershwin (lyrics)
|"Close to You"||Burt Bacharach,
(performed with Nikki Yanofsky)
William Blake (poem)
|"In the Bleak Midwinter"||2016||Harold Darke,
Christina Rossetti (poem)
(featuring Becca Stevens)
|"The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire)"||2020||Mel Tormé,
|"The Sun Is In Your Eyes"||2021||Jacob Collier|||
|"Flow Freely" (From the Film "Reflection: A Walk with Water")
(with Justin Kauflin)
|"Don't You Know"||2016||Snarky Puppy, Big Ed Lee||Family Dinner – Volume 2|||
|"Both Still Here"||2017||Becca Stevens||Regina|||
|"She's Gotta Be Somewhere" (Backing vocals)||David Crosby||Sky Trails|||
|"Restore the Feeling"||2019||Daniel Caesar, Sean Leon||Case Study 01|||
|"Church" (Backing vocals)||Coldplay||Everyday Life|||
|"Cry Cry Cry" (Backing vocals)|
|"Everyday Life" (Backing vocals)|
|"Slow Burn"||2020||Becca Stevens||Wonderbloom|||
|"Good Days" (Backing vocals)||SZA||TBA|||
|"Altar" (Backing vocals)||2021||Kehlani||TBA|||
|"Cry Cry Cry"|
Acting and music creditsEdit
|2004||A Christmas Carol||Tiny Tim|
|2005||The Best Man||Olly Aged 10|
|2006||The Virgin Queen||Little Boy||Episode 1|
|2002||Wozzeck||Child||Royal Opera House|||
|2007||The Magic Flute||First Boy||London Coliseum|||
|The Turn of the Screw||Miles|||
Awards and nominationsEdit
|2017||Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals||"Flintstones"||Won|||
|Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella||"You and I"|
|2020||Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals||"All Night Long"|||
|Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella||"Moon River"|
|2021||Album of the Year||Djesse Vol. 3||Nominated|||
|Best R&B Performance||"All I Need" (featuring Ty Dolla Sign & Mahalia)|
|Best Arrangement, Instrumental and Vocals||"He Won't Hold You"||Won|
Jazz FM AwardsEdit
|2016||Himself||Breakout Artist of the Year||Nominated|||
|Digital Initiative of the Year (Sponsored by 7digital)||Won|||
|2019||PRS For Music Gold Award|||
|2020||The Digital Award||Nominated|||
|2016||Himself||Best JAZZ Act||Nominated|||
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