Alumna bares her soul in music

Her music takes listeners through a soulful narrative mixing pop, folk, and R&B. But the self-described military brat’s biography suggests a woman pursuing one dream by day and another by night.

Nicole Collins, a 2002 Florida A&M University graduate, uses all the training provided in the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication to navigate through her hectic duties as metro editor for the New York Times.

The New York Times is a way for Collins to work with people, write, and it pays the bills. After graduating, she moved to St. Petersburg, Fla. to work for The St. Petersburg Times as a copy editor on the metro desk. The long hours and hard work for the St. Petersburg Times fueled the journey to New York, as she chased her dreams of singing and succeeding in the editorial ranks at The New York Times.

Collins seems to have no trouble juggling her career as a full time editor and a singer-songwriter.

“The pieces always worked together,” she said. “I was always a singer and songwriter, so when I became an editor it was easy. I express and escape from stress, work, and life through words. Although, I enjoy working for the Times, it is not my passion. Singing is my passion.”

Born in the Philippines, then moving from D.C. to Oklahoma, then Japan, Spain, Virginia, Utah, then back to Virginia, and then to FAMU on a full scholarship prepared Collins for her ultimate goal of music. In 2006, Europe became the destination to mold her style and confidence in the demanding music business.

Her two main producers were Anthony Robustelli and Allen Cohen, whom she met right before she moved to New York. She said her music and song writing is inspired by lost love, life trials, hurt, and what she calls “social codes.”

“When I first came out, I was very close to Mariah Carey, but now I don’t think that my style of music is like anyone,” she said.

In a 2007 Midwest tour, she had shows back to back in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Canada, upstate New York and Massachusetts. Collins also had the opportunity to do a small show last summer in the United Kingdom. She had a successful show in Indianapolis, because of her range of listeners; they actually paid $20 to get in the shop, and waited for hours to get their CDs signed. Prior to her arrival, the owners of the shop had been playing her music for weeks and got their regular customers interested in her music. When her CD first came out, she was selling about 50 percent and now that it’s been two years, her fans just want to see her play live.

“Ten years ago, when I first came to New York, my ultimate goal was to be a huge celebrity and get signed. I could not imagine anything but music, but now things have changed. I am engaged now, have a house and a dog so my goal now is to just be happy, make a living, have a decent income, being comfortable. I don’t want to change myself just to become famous.”

With time, she has learned to scale back her dreams. In an age when reality competition shows like “American Idol” and “Making the Band,” can transform amateurs into overnight sensations, Collins opts for a different, more authentic artistic path. She said she’d rather be herself and make her own kind of music without having to feel cheap in the process and not compete or be at someone’s throat.

Joe Ritchie, Collins’ former professor, makes high claims about her ballads and versatility. “She has a nice clear voice and writes most of her own stuff,” Ritchie said. “And of course Nicole plays the guitar with her music. In that way I think she kind of reminds me of a slightly younger Alicia Keys,” Ritchie said.

Collins said the road to her dreams has brought her through two roads less traveled.

” I am happy doing what I love and would not change it for the world,” she said.

People can check out her music at: or her myspace page: