Jammin’ John Collins

Each week,  we get up close and personal with one of the stars on our lineup, so you know what to expect on August 2. Have any more questions for these folks? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!


John Collins

When I asked who or what his influences are when creating music, John Collins just laughed.

“I do my own thing,” he told me. “What I create is uniquely me.”

That seems to be the way that John has approached most endeavors in his life, and it’s worked really well, albeit not exactly what he expected. He is now one of the most prolific, well-respected DJs in the world, but if you can believe it, this journey started as a side job.

He majored in biology at Wilberforce University in Ohio, the nation’s oldest private, historically black college, where he was also an activity coordinator for the school’s Student Government.

“We had a lot of events, and sometimes the music for the night wouldn’t show up,” John remembered. “That’s when I would get up there and play records for the crowd.” Collins remembered that’s where his inspiration began. “I really loved getting up there and performing for people,” he said.

John said that he had always grown up in a musical household, so instruments and records were always very present in his life. It wasn’t until a trip to a club in Detroit changed everything. There, he saw one of his friends on stage spinning. “If she can get up there and make a crowd go crazy like that, then I can do it, too,” Collins told himself.

And he did. John began spinning as a way to supplement his income as a researcher. During the day he conducted research in the fields of oncology, epidemiology, zoology and endocrinology. By night, he was entrancing crowds in the hottest clubs in Detroit.

DJing was never John’s career goal, though. “I always thought that I might DJ for five, maybe six years before I would settle into my research and do that full-time,” John remembered. “I had no idea that it would become something that I could do full-time. I’m really happy it has, because it has been such a rewarding career.”

Not only has John DJed worldwide (he’s also played in France, London and Japan), but he’s also taken his extensive musical knowledge to work as a music reporter for Billboard magazine and as a DJ on Detroit radio station WJLB FM 98, where he was dubbed Jammin’ by the late, great Chris McClendon. Five years later, Collins headed to WDRQ FM 93.1. He has also founded a Detroit Regional Music Conference and performed at the Movement Festival more than five times.

One of the activities John feels most passionately about is the SCP Backpack Music Festival. He’s been the artistic director for the event for the past three years, and plans on lighting up the stage himself on August 2. For him though, the thing he loves most is helping the children of Detroit. “I think that the work that the group does is so important.” John said. “I grew up in Northwest Detroit and love calling this place home.  When we take these backpacks and distribute them to the kids, it’s like they just won a million dollars. My heart is so warmed.”

Recently, John’s ties to the non-profit became even more personal. About 80 days ago, he received a kidney transplant from the University of Michigan Transplant Center, an organization that works closely with SCP Backpacking for Success .

“Kidney failure is an incredibly difficult experience that tested me on so many levels. Now that I’ve had this transplant, my life is changed forever and I’ll always be grateful. I love that I can show my appreciation by continuing to work with SCP Backpacking for Success.” The non-profit donates 100 backpacks to children at Camp Michitanki, a University of Michigan camp for children who have received a solid organ transplant.

Collins says that he is looking forward to his performance at the SCP Backpack Music Festival on August 2. ” I always love spinning in Detroit and this year in particular will be a celebration for me,” he said. “I’m so happy to be healthy and I know that my work is supporting a great cause, so I can’t wait to get out on Belle Isle.”

If you’re interested in checking out Jammin’ John Collins but can’t wait until August 2, he and Ray 7 Percussion will be spinning at Whole Foods Detroit on Thursday, May 22 from 6-8 p.m. as a part of the Whole Foods Detroit and SCP Backpack Music Festival House and Techno Thursday music series. Bring a backpack or new school supplies or a new copy of your favorite book from your childhood and get ready to dance.


This entry was posted on Monday, May 12th, 2014 at 9:06 am and is filed under General Info. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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