Canadian jazz legend Eleanor Collins passes away at age 104

Click to play video: 'Vancouver jazz great Eleanor Collins featured in commemorative stamp'
Vancouver jazz great Eleanor Collins featured in commemorative stamp
RELATED VIDEO: Legendary Vancouver jazz singer Eleanor Collins says it's 'surreal' to be featured on a Canada Post commemorative stamp. Catherine Urquhart has more on her story. – Jan 21, 2022

“Canada’s first lady of jazz” Eleanor Collins has reportedly died at the age of 104.

The Edmonton-born Collins began performing in the 1930s on television and radio shows across the country and has worked with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie to Oscar Peterson.

Her family said she passed away peacefully on Sunday at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

Collins had her own national television series, The Eleanor Show (1955).

Not only was Eleanor one of the first black artists in North America to star in their national television series, but she was also the first Canadian female artist to have her own television series.

Collins was born on November 21, 1919, the middle child of three sisters born to pioneering parents who came to Alberta in 1910 from the U.S.

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The family was part of a group of Black homesteaders drawn to Canada, through advertising offering affordable homesteading opportunities in western Canada.

Eleanor moved to the Lower Mainland in 1939 where she would meet the man who would become her life partner of 70 years, Richard Collins.

The couple married in 1942 and started a family, having four children — Rick Collins, Judith Collins-Maxie, Barry Collins, and Tom Collins.

In 2014, at the age of 95, she was invested with the Order of Canada for her “pioneering achievements as a jazz vocalist, and for breaking down barriers and fostering race relations in the mid-20th Century”.

She also got her own stamp in 2022 after being recognized by the Canada Post.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations may be made to two of Eleanor’s favourite charities: B.C. Black History and Awareness Society and the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) Vancouver.

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