Singer: ‘God took broken pieces to create Collage 3’

Edward J. West Sr., Larry Jones Jr., and Dominic Davis are the voices behind New Orleans-based Gospel trio Collage 3.

They have been together for 12 years but recently traveled to Baton Rouge promoting their new single “Better Man” and upcoming album “Under Construction.”

Larry, 38, a full-time minister of music, Dominic, 26, a praise and worship leader, and Edward, 43, a director of a youth choir with nonprofit community initiative in New Orleans recently performed at Higher Ground Outreach Church in Baton Rouge. They talked with the Jozef Syndicate about their sound, how they came together, and their future as a Christian group.

Collage 3 is a unique name how did you all come up with it?
We had accepted a few engagements and didn’t have a name for the group so we were being introduced as “Ed and ‘nem” or “Larry and ‘nem”. We gave each other homework to come up with a name. I (Ed) was visiting my mom and dad and saw a McDonald’s Black History brochure with information on Romare Bearden—an artist that was known for his artistic work inclusive of collages. I immediately called Larry about the name Collage and after deep thought Larry said “that’s it! A combination of broken pieces made whole through Jesus Christ.” So we went with Collage and later Bishop Darryl Brister of Beacon Light International in New Orleans added the “3”.

Before becoming a group what type of musical experience have each of you had?
Ed- My musical experiences ranged from Gospel to secular. I was a soloist in my father’s church in New Orleans. I sung lead for Echoes of Faith Teenage Community Choir. I founded the group and sung with Endurance along with Men of Standard member Brian Pierce Sr. and the late Michael Robinson Sr. I also sung hooks for numerous rap artists including Crazy, 504 Boyz, and a few with No Limit Records.

Larry- I directed numerous church choirs including choirs at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church, Beacon Light Missionary Baptist Church, Echoes of Faith Teenage Community Choir, and God’s Reflection of Love—all of New Orleans. I was also very active in my high school choir and band.

Dominic- I was and still am the worship leader for New Home Family Worship Center in New Orleans East. I was always very active in my school’s choir and have sung all over the city as a solo artist inclusive of weddings and funerals.

How would you describe your sound?
Our sound comes from very strong roots in Gospel music. It is a soulful mixture of blended harmony infused with blushes of R&B and Hip Hop.

What are some of the benefits of being in a group as opposed to being solo artists?
We are able to lean on each other and a lot of times it is better to have more than one mind working on the artistic and creative parts. We are able to pull our strengths vocally together to enhance our delivery and presentation. Each of our experiences has added perspective and strengthened the “Better Man” ministry.

Before becoming a group, each you were able to persevere through tough personal struggles. How were you able to do it?
With a strong Christian foundation, we were able to overcome a lot of struggles. Single parenthood, street life, jail, death and a lot of negative peer pressure. In spite of some of the poor decisions we made, God kept us.

Have some of the struggles in your past affected your music?Yes. We find ourselves more in touch with day-to-day issues. No matter what your economic and social status is or your walk with God, we all have problems. Our life situations and circumstances make us understand human struggles. We understand that our music speaks to every life situation and that is why we believe it is more than Gospel, it is life music offering the true remedy: Jesus Christ.

What are the misconceptions about Gospel artists that you face? A lot of times when you are a Gospel artist, people have the misconception that your life is perfect and that your walk with Christ is perfect. We struggle. We believe the devil works harder on us because of our mandate. Collage 3 is a group consisting of three men who love God, but still face the same struggles, temptations, and challenges that everybody else face. The thing that separates us is that we understand that in spite of the struggles and hardships, through Jesus Christ we are and can be Better Men.

What other factors influence your music?
Life situations, friends situations, mood, sermons, news stories, personal experiences, even the weather can influence how and what music we write.

All of you have had to overcome obstacles during your youth, do you plan to give back or reach out to others who are going through struggles now?
We currently work with a local nonprofit that teaches New Orleans’ Recovery School District high school students about the business of music. Music was an outlet that kept us out of trouble and we teach young people what we have learned musically and about decision making. We also work with different community organizations and artists that offer programs that benefit young people.

You have marketed Collage 3 as “not only a church ministry” but a “vehicle to meet people where they are”. What does this mean?Years ago we had no idea of what it meant to have God’s hand on our lives. Then by the persuasive power of God, He wrenched us from “street life” and through his anointing power gave us purpose. We not only cater to those who we find in the four walls (the church), but those who have not made it there yet and found Jesus Christ. God did not necessarily speak to us and save us in church, but it was the things taught in church that saved us. The reality is that not everyone goes to church, but they deserve to hear that hope, grace and mercy can be found when you give yourself to God.

What do you hope your fans gain from your music as they listen to it?
The mission of Collage 3 is not only to articulate the collective experiences of people, but to more specifically highlight the transformative power of endurance, a strong faith in God, and a commitment to embody what we believe. We hope that our fans are encouraged and that they gain hope and understand that the remedy is Jesus Christ.

Where can people purchase your music besides iTunes?
Directly from us, at http://www.collage3.com or by calling (504) 606-7105.

By Cameron James
Jozef Syndicate Reporter

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