Ford Collier is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and performer of folk music who specialises in weaving influences from diverse traditions into his music. Since starting his music career in his teens, he has performed at festivals including Glastonbury, regularly toured the UK, released four studio albums with his two bands, and received a nomination for the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk award. While already a skilled performer on low whistle and guitar, Ford's curiosity led him to learning the Indian tabla drums while studying for his music degree, which allowed him to develop some of the richness of Indian rhythmic language in his music, and from which he branched out to further percussion instruments including the West-African calabash. The deep respect for the music of India and its intricate rhythms, and broad curiosity for the wider music world that this experience gave Ford has made him uniquely able to absorb and experiment with the different musical traditions he encounters.
Ford formed his first band The Drystones as a fiddle and guitar duo with school friend Alex Garden. Since playing the free stage of their hometown festival in 2011, they have played to crowds of up to 9000, released 3 albums, and experimented with influences from electronic music, culminating in the release of their 2019 album Apparitions, which Folk Radio UK described as a 'moment of folk glory'. The Drystones still forms one of Ford's main musical outputs, alongside global folk-collective Mishra. Formed in 2017 with Kate Griffin, Mishra weave Indian music influences into infectious folk songwriting, and released their debut album the Loft Tapes also in 2019, which Songlines magazine described as "an airborne amalgam of cross-continental pollinations" and received airplay on Radio 2.
Ford began learning tabla from Sheffield University's musician in residence John Ball in his first year of studying music, and decided to perform on tabla for his final year recital, for which he received the highest mark ever recorded in a final year recital at Sheffield, despite having only been playing the instrument for two and a half years. Ford now performs with his teacher, including a recital at Leeds Conservatoire exploring ragas on whistle, with Balbir Singh Dance Company at the Billingham International Dance Festival, and in collaboration with Indian vocalist Deepa Nair Rasiya.
Alongside his varied performance work, including care homes, hospitals and SEN schools with music charity Live Music Now, Ford is an experienced educator, having tutored on Halsway Manor National Centre for the Folk Art's Young Folk courses since 2014. In 2018 he was commissioned by Halsway Manor and Historic England to devise a series of workshops on folklore and songwriting for schools in deprived areas. Through researching the folklore of the schools he visited, Ford developed a passion for storytelling, as he found he could bring old stories to life in a way that still captured children's imaginations. He now uses storytelling in his workshops and performances as he learns more about the rich folklore of the British Isles.