Growing up, Joy Collins never wanted to do anything but sing. Her father, who was in the military, was a gospel singer. He taught Collins and her sisters to sing harmony. “I would make my sisters be Louise and Irlene, and I was Barbara [Mandrell], and we would have little talent shows in front of my parents and their friends,” says Collins.
She began writing songs to help her cope with frequent moving. “I kind of used it as a therapy, writing about friends that I had and having to start over again every three years. It was like a diary or journal to me, writing songs that described relationships I had.”
As luck would have it, her dad’s last assignment brought the family to Fort Campbell, about 45 minutes from Nashville. After finishing high school, Collins was undecided about what direction to take. Pressures to find a “stable” career led her to pursue several degrees and ultimately settle into nursing. She married and had three children, but eventually divorced.
“If music is part of you it comes out one way or another,” says Collins, explaining that she needed to get back to music. “I decided to start running a songwriters’ night in Nashville. I started networking, co-writing, and getting back into the swing of things. With that came drinking more.”
It took Collins about seven years to realize she had a problem and seek treatment. “I was a recluse except for when there was an event,” she says. “I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was functional to the world, but in my own prison. I lost the will to do anything.”
Her recovery led to new love and inspiration to record a CD of her songs. “It is kind of like a diary itself,” she says. The title song is “It Ain’t Just Music.” “Most people who have anything to do with the music industry love that song because it’s very true; it’s not just music, it’s therapy, it’s what you use to explain what you can’t put into words,” she says. “The song ‘Bourbon’ is about my bout with alcoholism and the spiral it creates in your life.”
Now Collins realizes that music is the constant that’s helped her cope all along. “It gave me an outlet,” she says, encouraging others to take up the craft. “Never give up if it’s your passion. No matter what anyone says, writing gets better with time.”