For the past 17 years, Thorold has welcomed the best in blues musicians from around the world. Every year, about 30 acts take the stage over a weekend in October. When the dust has settled, one act emerges as the surprise smash hit and fan favourite of the annual Canal Bank Shuffle Blues Festival.
In 2018, that act was the Vanessa Collier Band.
In an interview with ThoroldNews, Collier said, "Last year at the Canal Bank Shuffle, I was blown away by the audience's enthusiastic response. It was a blast to play for and speak to everyone who chatted with me after the show, too. I always love coming to Canada to play and truly appreciate the super warm welcome and amazing energy!"
Her training and career have earned her the title of a master musician who incorporates blues, funk, soul and rock into every performance.
The undisputed current king of the blues, Buddy Guy said, "There’s a young lady [Vanessa Collier] came onstage with me; I forget where I was, but she’s playing an alto saxophone, and man, she was amazing.”
The young musician has barely begun her professional career but has already begun collecting awards and honours and establishing herself as a dynamic musical force.
Collier graduated from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in 2013, earning dual degrees in Performance and Music Production & Engineering. In the six years since, she has earned three Blues Music Award nominations, a Blues Blast Award nomination, the Jammingest Pro Award bestowed by the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, First Place for lyrics in the International Songwriting Competition, and Best of 2014 Blues Breaker on Dan Aykroyd’s BluesMobile. She was nominated for two 2018 Blues Music Awards, one for Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year, and a second nomination for Instrumental – Horn Player of the Year.
Collier demonstrates poise and professionalism on stage but the awards and accolades add new challenges.
"I'm completely humbled by the BMA nominations in both categories: Horn Player of the Year for the third year in a row and Contemporary Female Artist of the Year for the second year in a row. Both categories include some amazing musicians and I'm honoured to be included with the very best."
And she is among the very best in 2019 nominees including: Beth Hart, Danielle Nicole, Samantha Fish, and Shemekia Copeland.
She added, "I'm also thrilled with the reception of my third studio album, Honey Up, with nine weeks on the Billboard Charts Top 15, regular rotation on SiriusXM, and so many wonderful honours over the past six months."
Collier spent almost two years with Blues Hall of Fame artist Joe Louis Walker before setting out on her own. She has released three albums to critical acclaim over the past five years. Her career has continually gained momentum to the point where she's risen to the top of the most sought after blues acts touring today.
Collier told The News, "I'm also deeply thankful that I've been seeing sell out or close to sell-out audiences this year and I'm super excited to continue touring the world sharing my music and meeting so many wonderful people."
The Canal Bank Shuffle crowd of October 2018 can attest to the latter comments. In addition to receiving rousing ovations at that festival, fans clamoured for her music after her performance, catapulting her to the top in CD sales in Shuffle history.
Collier promises, "Fans can expect a high-energy show with danceable grooves and lots of original songs that pay homage to the blues while putting my own unique spin on things." She added, "Come prepared to dance, groove, and have fun!"
The show takes place at Holy Rosary Hall, 35 Queen St. South, at 4 p.m. Tickets and more information can be found at www.canalbankshuffle.com.