This American singer-songwriter is an independent artist who has a new self-titled EP. Just as independent Australian country music artists are producing music of the best quality, Collins's EP is a highly professional affair of catchy country pop songs. Collins has opened for performers including Kelsea Ballerini, Maren Morris, Jana Kramer, Ashley Monroe, David Nail and Mo Pitney. The experience shows in this EP, which has the sound of a young performer who has the wisdom to choose the best work to present (an impulse sometimes not found early in a career) and do it well. I interviewed her via email.
You're relatively young but your music sounds like the work of someone who has found her place - so when did you start performing and writing songs?
I started writing songs when I was 14. I knew four chords on guitar and taught myself how to play by writing songs. I started playing out when I was 15. My first gig was at an art fair in Dousman, WI. Then, I was hired to be a musician at Potbelly Sandwich Works. I’d play every Friday and Saturday night at the two locations in my hometown. It was a great way for me to gain experience and was how I got a lot of other performance opportunities.
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote
I do! The first song I wrote was called 'Everytime'. I wrote it the summer I was going into high school. I remember being so bored one summer day that I decided to pick up the guitar that was collecting dust in the corner of my room. I took guitar lessons for a summer when I was in elementary school but I only remembered how to play four chords. I just kept playing that progression over and over again and the words to my first song just poured out!
You've already released several albums on your own - what has been the best thing about being an independent artist and what has been the hardest?
The best thing about being an independent artist is having the ability to release new music whenever I want to! The hardest part is finding outlets for the new music to be heard on a larger scale.
Have your musical inspirations changed with time? Who are you inspired by at the moment?
Yes, my inspirations have definitely changed over time. When I was younger I was really influenced by Shania Twain. In high school, I had a guitar teacher who encouraged me to listen to Patsy Cline, Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton. These all big inspirations to me and influenced my writing. At the moment, I’m inspired by Miranda Lambert. She recently released a double album with songs that share her very personal experiences. Her honesty inspires me.
Has country music always been the genre you love?
I grew up listening to all genres but country music has always had a special place in my heart. One of my first concerts was Shania Twain. I think the reason why I connect to country music so much and why I love it so much is because every song tells a story. Being a songwriter, I love a good, emotional and honest story. That’s why I’m drawn to country music.
You've supported a lot of artists already - is there a venue you haven't played that you'd love to, or a particular bill you'd really love to be on?
Being from Milwaukee, WI a dream venue for me would be to open for a headlining act during Summerfest (the world’s largest music festival) in the Marcus Amphitheater and also at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. That would just be so cool for me because I grew up going to see all of my favorite artists play those venues. Also, a goal and dream of mine is to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. That’s definitely on the bucket list!
What are you working on right now?
Right now I am writing a lot for my next project! I’m very excited about the new songs I am writing. I feel like I’m growing a lot as a songwriter so I’m looking forward to sharing these songs with people! I’ve also got some fun shows coming up this summer! On May 20th I’ll be opening for Easton Corbin at the Gobbler Theater in Johnson Creek, WI. For a full list of my summer shows, check out my website: NoraCollins.com