Female jazz vocalist Ramona Collins has been performing in Toledo for 54 years. Collins joined the music scene through her mother, Alice (Collins) Carter’s influence. Her mother was a jazz singer and pianist who encouraged her daughter to sing to overcome her shyness. Although recently retired from her day gig with the State of Ohio Department of Job & Family Services, Collins is still very active in her community.
She currently sits on several boards and committees, including the Black Swamp Blues Society, where she serves as secretary and treasurer, and as a past president of the Toledo Jazz Society. Ramona identifies her greatest achievements as “my reward is people asking me to do gigs and still coming to see me perform after all these years.
That makes me give the best I can as a performer.”
How long have you lived in the Toledo area?
I was born in Toledo but grew up in Lansing, Michigan. I returned to Toledo in 1968 and started singing here.
Describe your story in one sentence.
I am a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, singing entertainer, song writing mentor, friend, educator, radio personality, event host and three time Best of Toledo winner, among other awards.
One piece of advice you’d give your younger self:
Always stand up for yourself.
What’s one song you play to put yourself in a good mood:
There is no one song because I have many moods and I like a variety of music genres. My sign is Scorpio.
Something most people don’t know about me
I recorded a song in 1970 in Toledo at Clark’s Record Shop, in the 1300 block of Dorr Street. That song, “You’ve Been Cheatin’,” is a collector’s item in the UK.
The one thing I wear everyday is…
A gold microphone necklace that was given to me by a fan on my 49th birthday.
My childhood ambition:
To look out for and take care of my eight younger siblings. I am the oldest so that was my focus.
What’s one trait you consider essential to your success:
Being a singing entertainer and not simply a singer.
Two of your bucket list items:
Record one of my original songs and be instrumental in producing a women’s all-music festival in Toledo.
What is your favorite part of Toledo?
The Old West End.
What song lyric best describes you?
“No complaints and no regrets. I still believe in chasing dreams and placing bets,” from ‘Here’s to Life,’ made famous by Shirley Horn and Barbra Streisand.
What is your favorite music venue in Toledo?
My absolute favorite venue in Toledo was Rusty’s Jazz Café. It still is, even though it is no longer there. That is where I recorded my first album and became deeply involved in the jazz community after singing other genres of music.
Do you have a favorite local musician?
I am blessed to know and have the pleasure of working with many, many amazing local musicians. It is impossible to name just one as my favorite.
To see Ramona Collins perform or purchase a CD, visit her website for further information. https://ramonacollins.com/