Jeff Collins is one of Southern Gospel's premiere record producers, label executives and pianists. While he is usually behind the scenes helping other artists such as the Kingdom Heirs or the Inspirations or Mark Bishop or the Kingsmen, Collins is front and center on this new recording. "The Keys to Christmas" finds Collins on the piano or the keyboard as he brings to life 11 Christmas instrumental favories accompanied by an orchestra. We are honored to be able to catch up with Jeff Collins for this exclusive interview.
Q: Jeff, thank you for your time. Having reviewed most of the music albums coming out of Crossroads and its subsidiary labels, I often see your name both as a producer and musician on most of the albums. How many albums do you produce and play on each year?
"My guess is that I produce 1-2 projects per month. Keep in mind, one project can be spread over 2-3 months, beginning with song selection, pre-production, and on through tracking, vocals, mix and mastering. I also produce the Crossroads Performance Track Series, along with playing piano on other recordings from other producers and labels."
Q: Do you often use the same musical template or do you create a different template for each individual artist you produce?
"I really don't think of using a musical template at all. I base each production on the songs and what those songs 'tell me' to do in how I will approach the production. Every song is different. Every project is different. I do like to weave a common thread through a 'project', and encompass diversity within a certain boundary or 'box'. I have a group of musicians that I'm blessed to be able to create with who honestly can play any style I throw at them. That makes my job easy and I feel free to be confident to do whatever is necessary to bring the song to it's finished creation, which hopefully reaches the most people effectively.
Q: Who are you currently working with right now in terms of albums you are producing?
As of this month (October 2016) I'm currently involved in new recordings for Mark Bishop, The Kingsmen, and The Mylon Hayes Family, along with several others. I recently co-produced the new Mark Trammell Qt release, along with the current Flatt Lonesome project that just won IBMA's album and song of the year. The McKameys and Inspirations will be coming up shortly.
Q: You have also released a Christmas album where you play keyboard and piano on every track. Why a Christmas album?
"I have always had a special love for music, especially Christmas music. My parents made the Christmas season very special for my sister Gail and I. I have wonderful memories of decorating the tree and wrapping presents to the soundtrack of classic Christmas music by Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and on and on. Those musical influences inspired me in the creation of this, my latest Christmas music offering, THE KEYS TO CHRISTMAS."
Q: You have chosen to put your piano chops on 11 Christmas classics. What criterion did you use to choose your songs?
"At this time in my life, I knew I wanted to put together a really special Christmas recording, a recording with real orchestra, and with lots of variety. I wanted to pull out all of the stops...do it 'right', if you will. I'm very blessed to be a part of a wonderful business organization at Crossroads Entertainment and Marketing Inc. With our team there, I was able to accomplish the goals I set for this project. I think there's something for everyone on THE KEYS TO CHRISTMAS."
Q: What does Christmas mean for you personally?
Christmas is a wonderful time of year for me personally. For some folks, Christmas can be a very lonely and depressing time of year. Whatever your situation from year to year, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It's a time of reflection and celebration. It's a time for joy. My prayer is that folks can take time from their daily busy lives and sit back and relax. Dance and smile! Reflect, meditate and focus on the meaning of Christmas...while listening to THE KEYS TO CHRISTMAS.
For more information on Jeff Collins and his new album, click here.
Tags : jeff collins crossroads records southern gospel music Mark Bishop christmas albums 2016 jeff collins interview jeff collins news jeff collins keys to christmas keys to christmas instrumental christmas kingsmen kingdom heirs The Mylon Hayes Family