Nora Collins brings a confident and youthful originality to country music – a style she describes as “fun, flirty, relatable and honest.” That individuality is evident in “Who Knows Who,” a catchy single that captures her energetic spirit and her talent for songwriting.
Already her dynamic music has gained the attention of CMT, Radio Disney, and the iconic music festival Summerfest in Milwaukee. In 2016, Collins played 18 Summerfest sets across 11 days. The following year, she opened for Lee Brice on the festival’s main stage, which remains a landmark in her career.
“Being a Milwaukee girl this was a dream come true for me,” says Collins, who was born and raised in nearby Brookfield, Wisconsin. “That was the stage I grew up going to, to see my favorite bands play. In a way it made me feel like I am ‘making it.’”
Indeed she is. Collins moved to Nashville in April 2016 after landing a publishing and artist development deal with MV2 Entertainment. She explains, “I had never moved in my life until I moved to Nashville. It means so much to have my Wisconsin friends cheering me on. They have been so kind to me over the years. Wisconsin is a proud state that really rallies behind their own. I want nothing more than to make my hometown proud.”
Collins has claimed the Best of Milwaukee Award in the Female Vocalist category four times (2013-2016). She also earned recognition as Best Acoustic Musician in 2013, 2014, and 2015. In addition, she has received eight Wisconsin Area Music Industry Award (WAMI) nominations, leading to wins as Singer/Songwriter of the Year in 2014 and Rising Star in 2012 and 2013.
A frequent local performer from the time she was 14 years old, Collins has gradually accumulated a stack of independent albums to sell at her shows. After co-writing with several notable Nashville songwriters, she released a five-song EP with MV2 in 2016, followed by a Christmas project in 2017. She is currently working on new music with accomplished producer Marshall Altman (Natasha Bedingfield, Amy Grant, Frankie Ballard, Eric Paslay).
She notes, “Having a hit producer connect with my songs and want to help me bring them to life was a big honor. It’s been so fun working with him. It’s amazing to watch him work and learn from him.” When Collins unveiled the uptempo single, “Who Knows Who,” CMT premiered the video while Radio Disney added the song to rotation.
Collins says, “The message of this song is that two can play that game. I feel like it’s a really relatable song about the games we all can be guilty of playing in relationships. You want the person to know that you could be anywhere, doing anything without them and you’re having the time of your life. You want them to be dying to know what you’re doing.”
In concert, Collins often accompanies herself on acoustic guitar, fitting in seamlessly with top-notch musicians that she’s met in Nashville. She believes that the lively attitude of “Who Knows Who” sets the stage for the upcoming EP. “A lot of the songs have a throwback feel, which showcases who some of my musical influences are,” she says, citing Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Alison Krauss, and Miranda Lambert as personal heroes. Dedicated to a career in music, Collins hopes to join their ranks.
“I have many goals but my ultimate goal since moving here is to have a hand in writing a No. 1 song, earn a major label record deal, go on tour as the opening act on a major tour, and have my own #1 song as the artist,” she says.
Yet, like these women, she knows she has to work hard to be heard. It’s a lesson she discovered through her Midwestern upbringing: “I learned the importance of work ethic from my parents. They instilled in me that if you want something, you have to work for it. Always be the hardest worker in the room.”
When she’s off the road, Collins dedicates her time to co-writing sessions on Music Row. As she continues to garner new fans through performances and social media, the naturally outgoing singer-songwriter believes that she is forging new friendships, too.
“I am most looking forward to going out on the road and playing my new music!" she says. “When people hear my music, my hope is that they will connect to the songs. There is nothing more special to me than knowing that my lyrics moved someone. Music is the universal language that connects us all and it's so cool to see that in action.”