For as long as she can remember, Licity Collins has connected with catchy songs, orchestral layered sound, and detailed, storied lyrics.
The first album she owned was Beethoven’s Fifth (aka Symphony No. 5) with Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony on the flip side. Her first eight-track was Tony Orlando and Dawn. And when she was old enough to buy her own music, she bought the cassette of Paul Simon’s Greatest Hits etc.
“I’ve sung my whole life and had an amazing, radical music teacher in elementary and middle school that believed in the voices of youth,” recalled Collins of Ojai. “She was the one who saw and nurtured my voice.”
Collins continued to nurture her talent in high school, even sneaking out to rehearse a Janis Joplin cover with her friend’s high school band.
“But ultimately I couldn’t pursue that because my family would have never allowed it,” she said, “But the feeling infected my blood and became my dream.”
Today, “the passion I have for music comes from the way it reached into the isolation I experienced at different moments in my life,” Collins said. “It was music that confirmed my existence. I hope my music can give that kind of emotional validation to others.”
To that end, Collins is currently working on her debut album, One Girl Town, slated for release in 2017. She is recording the album at Colourbox Recording in Ventura with engineer and producer Jeff Evans.
“One Girl Town is a timeless appeal to the part within each of us that feels invisible in a world where being noticed has become a prerequisite for being human,” Collins explained. “One Girl Town reinstates the humanity we have lost. Its lyrics and sounds use tradition to speak to our modern dilemmas. It is a restorative record. It brings us back to ourselves.”
This is not folk rock, Collins emphasized. Rather, she said, “It is folk that rocks.” “One Girl Town rocks your core until it awakens to find what has long been missing,” Collins said. “It rocks your heart like a baby in need of a gentle, loving hand.”
“I was kind of a hermit for the first three years I lived in Ojai,” Collins remembered. “I was uncovering so much about who I was as a person; things I hadn’t known about myself were coming up and shaking my foundations.”
During that time, she became unsure of how to represent this “mutating self” to others.
“I grew anxious in even the most benign social activities,” Collins said. “Any adventurous impulse was concentrated internally in a rigorous search for freedom — a layer-by-layer excavation of mistruths, false identities and imbalanced expectations imposed by the outside world.”
This finally began to unveil some kind of rudimentary internal structure, she said, “something I could count on to be the real me.” These songs emerged from that process.
“I hope it offers people landmarks, beacons of hope, in their own process of internal growth and external freedom,” Collins said. “I want to make the kind of music that becomes personally important to people. I want to reach into our isolated places and help people feel witnessed. I want their stories to become the stories they hear behind the songs.”
Raised in Washington, D.C., Collins lived in New England, Chicago, Portland and Los Angeles before moving to Ojai in 2012.
“I kept telling people I wanted to live in a small town that was close enough to a big city with art museums and classical music venues,” Collins said. “And over and over people responded, ‘Oh, you mean Ojai?’ That’s how I heard of it. I got my first guitar a month after I moved here.”
Over the years, she has performed at small cafés, house concerts and local community centers.
“I am new on the music scene so I have been keeping things pretty small as I craft the sound that is coming forward on the album,” Collins said. “My next step is to put together a band, and then I will expand my performances.”
Today, she describes herself “as having the exposed heart of a folk singer” and “the fearless soul of classic rock.”
“I love folk music’s way with words, and classic rock is lodged in my bones,” Collins said. “I write songs to keep people company. That’s what I think music does best – keeps us company in the moments of our lives. Carries us through. Helps us to feel less alone, gives us a sense of being understood, heard and cared for.”
Licity Collins plays Saturday, Feb. 11, 12 p.m. at the Sandbox Coffeehouse, 204 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura. For more information, visit licitycollins.com.