Canadian jazz legend Eleanor Collins has died at 104

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      Known as Canada’s First Lady of Jazz, Eleanor Collins died at the age of 104 on March 3 in Surrey.

      Collins was a pioneering jazz singer who performed alongside musicians like the Ray Norris Quintet and Dizzy Gillespie.

      The Edmonton-born chanteuse broke the mold in many ways; she was one of the first Black artists and the first female artist to have her own television series (The Eleanor Show).

      Collins had moved to the Lower Mainland from Alberta in the 1930s, where she met her husband, Richard (Dick) Collins, and started a family in Burnaby—becoming the only Black family in the community. Neighbours at the time started an unsuccessful petition to get them removed from the area.

      The prolific musician enjoyed many accolades over her decades-long career—she was the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame Star in 1992, and she earned the BC Black Historical Society Award as well as the Black Canadian Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

      She was honoured by the Order of Canada for “pioneering achievements as a jazz vocalist, and for breaking down barriers and fostering race relations in the mid-20th Century” in 2014, leading to getting her own stamp with Canada Post by 2022.

      For anyone who would like to pay their respects to the late jazz legend, Collins’ family is recommending donations to two of her favourite charities: the B.C. Black History and Awareness Society and the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) Vancouver.

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