What is your favorite kind of music?
Some of us like fun, light pop music that we can dance to in the car while some of us prefer heavier rock. On the other hand, you could also get into the twang of country, the sharp lyrics of rap and hip-hop or the smooth sounds of R&B. Without a doubt, music is certainly one of life’s great joys. No matter what genre you like, any of them offer enough variety and invention to sustain your ears for a lifetime.
Part of the fun is that you can constantly discover new artists and new interpretations of old songs.
To that point, few people are more creative and talented than young jazz musician Jacob Collier.
Though he remains a relative unknown, Collier is something of a musical prodigy. He was born in 1994 and signed to Quincy Jones’s management company in 2014. While he’s still quite young, Collier has mastered many different styles of music in his performances including jazz, a cappella, folk, electronic, classical, funk, soul, gospel and many more. Despite all this mastery, Collier is self-taught—and has won two Grammys for arrangements of “Flintstones” and You And I” from his debut album.
Above all though, Collier is known for his incredible vocal arrangements that he releases on his YouTube channel.
In case you’re not sure, Collier is a huge fan of classic jazz, funk and soul records—and he proved it with his version of “Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing.”
If you’re not familiar, “Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing” is a song written and performed by Stevie Wonder, originally released in 1973 on his album “Innervisions.” Both the song and the album are instantly recognizable classics, each with a smooth style. What fewer people know is that Wonder played the majority of the instruments on the album himself and produced, composed, sang, arranged and sang throughout. For reference, here is the original:
Much like Wonder, Collier is also a multi-instrumentalist and a musical genius!
Collier’s version of Wonder’s song starts off entirely a cappella, with six versions of his own voice singing the melody in different registers. After a moment, the main vocal lead comes in above all the others. When he sings the iconic title lyrics, the other voices jump back in and do the percussion as well! Still, Collier has even more tricks up his sleeve as the song goes on.
After a little while, he adds in a wide range of instruments!
Aside from the vocal harmonies, he also plays keys, tambourine, drums, cymbals, stand-up bass and more!
Although Wonder’s original musical arrangement is incredible all on its own, it’s truly incredible to see what Collier was able to find in the composition both musically and rhythmically. After watching this, it’s not hard to see how it has more than three million views on YouTube! Still, it’s not the only Stevie Wonder cover that Collier has on YouTube. The second one was done when he was even younger than the first and takes on “Isn’t She Lovely.”
Although this one is mostly vocals, he also adds his own accompaniment on melodica halfway through.
Even if it’s not your particular cup of tea, Collier’s use of rhythm and melody are so inventive!
Though he hasn’t quite hit mainstream success yet, his unique style has earned him coverage in NPR and BBC. Though I’ve been a fan of Collier’s for quite some time, one of the most incredible things I saw of his was a video project he did with Wired featuring Herbie Hancock where he discussed melody and improvisation. Collier explains complex musical topics to children, college students, professional musicians and Hancock himself! The video is mind-blowing, to say the least:
Last but certainly not least, Collier does his own original compositions as well.
While the covers are catchy and well-known enough that everyone can get behind them, Collier is no slouch when it comes to writing his own music as well. One song that’s particularly beautiful is “Hideaway,” another multi-instrumental slow jam that has Collier picking up all kinds of different roles. The song itself seems to be both a love song and a tribute to the creative process. If you’ve never heard it, definitely give it a listen (and notice that the music gradually tunes up through the song):
Needless to say, Collier is definitely a talent to watch!
If you’re a fan of music in general, Collier’s inventive covers and his own compositions are sure to bring you joy. While it remains to be seen if his talents will lead him to mainstream success, there’s no doubt that I’m going to keep watching his videos! If you checked these videos out, which one is your favorite? What would you like to see him cover? Leave a comment and let us know.
Be sure to check out the full cover of “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” below:
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Sources: YouTube/Jacob Collier