(Collins was a founder member of the Belfast branch of NICRA.) Later he would perform to a 'captive' audience while on remand in Crumlin Road prison in Belfast. Many years later he is still singing and writing songs which relate his experiences of life and death in Belfast and beyond!! Collins also spent much of his riotous turbulent 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 and70s he spent various chunks of time in London, England, playing the bars and clubs there, with occasional sorties to Glasgow, Scotland, and frequent trips to Europe: In the early 1980's Collins 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 Luke Kelly (The Dubliners); The Clancy Brothers; Eamonn McGirr; The WolfeTones; Pete Seeger; Richie Havens; Sean O'Connor & The Look-a-Likes; Morning Star; Black '47; and Shenachai. The Hunger Strikes During the Hunger Strikes of 1980 and 1981 Collins visited the prisoners, played numerous benefit gigs, and embarked on speaking tours in Britain and Europe to highlight the struggle for Political Status by the Irish political prisoners-of-war in the H Blocks of Long Kesh and Armagh women's prison. North American Tour In 1984 Collins embarked on a 3-month extensive tour of the United States and Canada organized by the Irish Republican Socialist Committee/North America. As well as playing bars,coffee houses,folk clubs, colleges, concert halls, and festivals to raise funds for the Political Prisoners in Ireland; Collins also embarked on a simultaneous lecture and speaking tour of colleges and press clubs, being interviewed by numerous journalists for both local and national newspapers, magazines, and journals, as well as appearing on television and radio and at Press Clubs in an effort to counter the prevailing Reagan/Thatcher propaganda filling the airwaves and columns of the mainstream North American media. Saoirse go Deo During this tour Ray recorded and produced an album of original Irish Republican Socialist songs entitled "Saoirse go Deo"/"Let the Fight Go On" to raise funds for the families of Irish Republican Socialist political prisoners. A companion booklet.
of the same name, was also published containing songs, poems, and articles written by Irish political prisoners. The project helped to raise funds for the prisoners and their families.. American Indian Movement During this extensive tour Collins also 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", (Dances with Wolves, Son of the Morning Star) of the Sisseton-Wahapteh-Dakota (Sioux) Nation. New York City/Irish Arts Center It was during this American tour that Collins began a long-term love affair with New York City, which has become his second home. While in the Big Apple Collins 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). 'Under Which Flag'/"In Belfast Town" In 1986 Collins played the role of James Connolly in Connolly's play'Under Which Flag,'directed by Jim Sheridan, with music and songs arranged by Collins. The play was performed in New York City before an audience which included James Connolly's grand-nephew and Gerald O'Reilly, a co-founder of the Transit Workers Union (TWU). In the same year "In Belfast Town", a one-man-show written, produced, and performed by Collins, 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 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 Bellfast." "As I Roved Back"... "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 Collins and O'Connor on the album are New Yorker Dave Sandler on drums; Black '47 member Geoff Blythe on saxophones; and Dublin chanteuse Susan McKeown. "Slainte agus Saoirse go Deo" Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
show me more