Although his smooth guitar chops and dynamic stage persona draw fans, Nick Colionne has balanced his over 20-year career with a dedication to teaching and mentoring students.
Emerging in the '90s with his debut, It's My Turn, Colionne established himself as an in-demand player in the Chicago area, building upon the soulful jazz style of idols like Wes Montgomery, George Benson, and Grover Washington, Jr. At the same time, he balanced his love of music with a commitment to teaching, working with K-8 students in his home base of Elgin, Illinois. Over the years, he has earned accolades for both pursuits, including being awarded a Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award in 2010 and topping smooth jazz charts the following year with his Feel the Heat album.
At the behest of his stepfather, Colionne picked up the guitar when he was nine years old. A professional touring artist by the age of 15, he spent much of his youth on the road, touring with such legendary acts as the Staple Singers, Curtis Mayfield, the Impressions, and others. Although music was his passion, getting an education was also a primary focus for Colionne. After high school, he graduated from Chicago's Malcolm X College and became an elementary-school teacher. Along with performing, he worked for over 15 years at St. Laurence Elementary School in Elgin, Illinois as a music teacher and counselor. In 1996 he received the Malcolm X College Alumnus of the Year Award from his alma mater for his continued dedication to mentoring students.
Away from teaching, Colionne continued to pursue his music career, issuing a handful of smooth jazz and funk-influenced efforts including 1996's Arrival, 1999's The Seduction, and 2003's Just Come on In. Colionne then signed to Narada for 2006's Keepin' It Cool, and received the International Instrumental Artist of the Year Award at the Wave Jazz Awards in 2007 (following Chris Botti from the year before). He then moved over to Koch for 2008's well-received No Limits.
Touring when he wasn't teaching and mentoring, he established a strong European following. In 2010, he was nominated as Guitarist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year by the American Smooth Jazz Awards, and won the Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award for his continuing efforts in mentoring children and championing breast cancer causes. Also in 2010, he signed to Trippin 'N' Rhythm Records, and debuted on the label the following year with Feel the Heat; it topped the charts at smooth jazz radio.
Influences followed in 2014. Its first single, "Got to Keep Moving," hit the top of airplay charts and made its way into dance clubs as well. Guests on the album included Maysa and James Lloyd. His third album for Trippin 'N' Rhythm was The Journey, issued in April 2016, followed in 2018 by Just Being Me. ~ James Christopher Monger, Rovi