Bits O' Bio

Irish singer-songwriter Ray Collins hails from Belfast City in the north of Ireland. His musical roots are embedded in the rich ballad tradition of his native land.
His original songs twig those roots with other branches of music, most notably "folk" and "rock", producing his distinctive driving, rhythmic style. His first 'major' public singing engagements were on the picket-lines and rallies of the
Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and later to captive audiences as an inmate in Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast.
Ray is a former member of the
Irish Transport and General Workers Union and was a Trade Union activist in Belfast and London.

Many years later he is still writing songs which relate his experiences of life and death in his native land....and beyond.

Ray also spent much of his youth playing the illegal late night shebeens, smoke-filled rowdy bars, and jam-packed boisterous clubs of Belfast, oft' times without the aid of a PA system.
In the '60s and '70s he spent various chunks of time in London, England, playing the bars and clubs there,as well as benefits for Irish Political Prisoners and Trade Union functions, with occasional sorties to Glasgow, Scotland, and frequent trips to Europe. In the early 1980's Ray toured Europe eventually settling in Paris where he played a resident gig at the Guinness Tavern.

Ray has performed with a variety of artists including
The Druids; Luke Kelly (The Dubliners); The Clancy Brothers; Eamonn McGirr; (Ray's former Maths Teacher),
The WolfeTones; Pete Seeger; Richie Havens; Sean O'ConnorShenachai & the Unity Squad.

In 1984 Collins embarked on a 3-month coast-to-coast tour of the United States and Canada, to raise funds for the families of Irish Political Prisoners, playing bars, cafes, coffee houses, colleges, press clubs, concert halls, festivals, and appearing on television and radio.
During this extensive tour Collins played several benefit concerts for the
American Indian Movement  from which he developed a strong friendship and close cultural bond with singer-songwriter/actor Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman, R.I.P. (Dances with Wolves;Son of the Morning Star) of the Sisseton-Wahapteh-Dakota (Sioux) Nation.

Ray also formed a close friendship with veteran Civil Rights activist and Freedom Singer-Songwriter,
Matt Jones; Ray's "brother in song and struggle."
As editor of the radical song magazine, 'Broadside', Matt first published one of Ray's most popular  songs,
'Radical Rebel Girl'.
Sadly Matt died on March 30th. 2011in New York City after a long illness. SNCC tribute.

It was during this American tour that Collins began a long-term love affair with New York City .

"My kinda city, open dusk till dawn, anything goes if you care to try it on"

While in the Big Apple Ray  worked at the famed
Irish Arts Center in Hell's Kitchen, forming a friendship with Irish filmmaker and Director Jim Sheridan, (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, In America).
In 1986 Collins played the lead role of
James Connolly in Connolly's play 'Under Which Flag ', directed by Sheridan, with music and songs arranged by Collins. 

"In Belfast Town", a one-man-show written, produced, and performed by Ray, had it's American premiere at the Irish Arts Center. The show is a social history of Belfast in song, story, verse, and prose, with especial reference to Collins's family neighbourhood; the York Street/Sailortown Working-Class  District around the Belfast Docks.

Jim Sheridan praised Collins's performance as:

"a masterful portrayal of the enduring spirit and strength
of the people of Belfast."

"As I Roved Back to York Street", a song originally written by Collins as the finale to "In Belfast Town " eventually became the title track of his 1996 album,
"As I Roved Back..."

Collaborating with his close friend, Dublin Rock Star Sean O'Connor, they co-produced this album of original songs depicting Collins's adventures on the road and relating his experiences of life in his native Belfast.
Joining Ray and Sean on the album are New Yorker Dave Sandler on drums; Black '47 member Geoff Blythe on saxophones; and Dublin chanteuse Susan McKeown singing backing vocals.

Ray is currently working on an anthology of poems and song lyrics entitled 'In Belfast Town'  which will accompany a CD with the same title.

Ray runs his own independent label and publishing company, Colin Glen Music.
He is also a member of the
Songwriters Guild of America and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.


“THANKS”  for stopping by

come back soon


rovin' rebel ray


"..'Belfast Punter'.....a fine tribute to the punters of Belfast from one of their own."

Belfast Telegraph

"Belfast Punter".. a surefire hit.."

Irish News, Belfast

"A versatile musician as well as a noted balladeer, "As I Roved Back", is his most mature work to date...the raw energy and passion of his earlier music being harnessed into a disciplined set of self-penned songs."

Andersonstown Mews, Belfast

"As I Roved Back provides, through its largely autobiographical material, a clear view of what makes Ray Collins tick,as well as providing an exciting entry in a growing trend. Forget what you've heard about Seattle. Ireland and Irish New York are the cutting edge of music today. "Rock on."

Irish People, New York

"Ray Collins is a musician who writes songs that sum up life- all the little things that make living bearable (or not),who see traits, normally ignored or taken for granted, which pinpoint the essence of a character. He writes with humor and pathos and performs in an absorbing style.

Irish Edition, Philadelphia

"..another excellent recording from Ray Collins.. just wish he'd manage to get to the Bay area a bit more often, especially after his previous rousing visits here...

San Francisco Gael

"An excellent recording. Ray is tough and witty like the city he hails from"

Filmmaker Jim Sheridan

"I'd rather be at home ..with RAY"

Amy Winehouse

"A Darhling Boy, A Darhling Boy, my favourite Irish Rebel Singer"

Queen Elizabeth II