Not that she needed it, but Eleanor Collins has gotten Canada Post's stamp of approval.
That is to say, the legendary jazz singer's face is now on an official stamp.
"You know, at 102-years-old, one doesn't even expect to be remembered," Collins says in a video about the stamp, noting the honour is surreal. "But, I am grateful, I left something that you can't take away."
Collins was born in and raised in Edmonton, but moved to Vancouver before she was 20. It was here where she made a name for herself, becoming Canada's 'first lady of jazz.'
While she became a leading figure in the city's musical scene, she faced racism regularly. In one case neighbours in Burnaby started a petition to keep her family from living in the community.
“The hostilities, name-calling, bullying and barriers came as no surprise. I knew that we had to develop a strategy to help create a climate in which our children could live without harassment. For me it was about increasing my visibility in the community so people could get to know me,” Collins says in a press release.
In the early 40s she started appearing on CBC Radio as part of the Swing Low Quartet, a gospel group, before performing with Ray Norris, an established bandleader with his own CBC radio show.
By the 1950s she was performing with top-level musicians in Canada on radio and in the early days of TV. In 1955 she started hostedThe Eleanor Show, a national television series. In doing so she became the first woman, first person of colour, and first jazz singer to headline a show on national TV.
“The producers, technicians and talent were all pioneers together. So we each did what we felt we were called to do – live in the present and make the best decisions we could in support of that. How history regards or records our lives in retrospect, in reflection, is up to history,” she says in a press release from Canada Post.
She continues to host and appear on TV and radio through to the 1970s and performed her last concert in the 1990s.
Apart from her on-stage activities, Collins was active in the community, encouraging musical education and singing in a variety of venues, like children's hospitals and prisons.
Collins still lives in Vancouver.
- with files from the Canadian Press