Home » Featured » Colleen Prossner: Multi-Instrumentalist, Vocalist

Colleen Prossner: Multi-Instrumentalist, Vocalist

Colleen Prossner is a lifelong musician having started early on in school. Since those days her path in music has been a robust one where her talent has found residence in a colorful collection of projects with some pretty great musicians.

Primarily a jazz musician, noted especially for her vocal gift, she also plays piano and clarinet. No slouch either with accolades and acknowledgements that would validate any musician into a better confidence.


And she’s not just a real deal musician. She’s also a positive force in her community – and above all of that – she is a nice lady.

Let’s get this chat going.

Chuck Schiele: For how long have you been playing music?

Colleen Curley Prossner: I have been playing either piano, clarinet, or singing since I was in grade school. I continue to dabble in the piano and sing on a regular basis around the CNY area.

CS: Please characterize your music.

CCP: Mostly jazz, yet I dabble in R&B, blues, soft rock, and other genres. 

CS: What are some of the projects you are currently working with.

CCP: I am currently working on gigs my band Colleen & Friends are preparing. We have gigs coming up at Heuga’s at Song Mountain, The Brae Loch in Cazenovia, and just finished a gig at the Steeple Coffee House in Fayetteville. We have a steady gig at the Brae Loch once a month and the musicians with whom I play are stellar. Kevin Roe, Loren Barrigar, John Dancks, Jason Jeffers, Mark Hoffmann, and we sometimes have the honor of Skip Murphy and Jim Lamica jumping in on a few tunes.

CS: Please share with us, your music history or path.

CCP: I started playing a musical instrument in elementary school, first the Bb clarient, then the Eb clarient, then piano lessons and found out I could sing a little when I was in junior high. I have been in many musicals over the years…Oklahoma, Godspell, The Wiz, Damn Yankees, Sound of Music, Pippin, West Side Story, and others. My concert choir director Mr. Wonderly was the first person that told me I could sing, and had me sing a solo in concert choir as a freshman. I played Bb clarinet in all-county, and Eb clarinet in all-state (I was the only Eb clarinet hence them choosing me!) Vocally, I went on to attend all-county, all-state and conference all-state choirs, and was graded 6A+ an NYSMA solo grading. In my adult life, I have sung in church for years, and started Colleen & Friends after being nudged by my significant other. We now play out and I am very fortunate to have such a great band playing with me.       

CS: I understand you are participating in this year’s Jazz Fest…please share your thoughts?

CCP: I am humbled that Frank asked us to play. The musicians that we have playing in our clubs and restaurants in CNY are stellar to say the least, and to be able to share our music in such an elite arena with musicians from the area is very meaningful to not just me, but all of the musicians with whom I play.   

CS: What are some of your other involvements.

CCP: I serve on the CNY Arts Board, the CazArts Board, and have served on the St. Joseph’s Health Auxiliary Board for 25 years. Other boards that I have served on are the St. Joseph’s Hospital College of Nursing Governing Board and I also produced the Follies at St. Joseph’s Hospital two years in a row and was President of the Auxiliary Board for 2 years, where we raised over $400,000 for the hospital. I have produced and directed Godspell and Grease for youth groups, as well as talent shows and summer theatre workshops for youth for over 20 years. I have sung in many weddings and funerals and at private events as well. I am also a proud Mom of two grown children, Samantha and Jake.

CS: Please share with us a highlight or two from your music career.

CCP: When Jennifer Holliday (The original Broadway Dreamgirl) sang me happy birthday at the Catherine Cummings Theatre at Cazenovia College at the 15th annual Jazz N’ Caz Festival. 

CS: And…what might be your advice for the budding musicians out there?

CCP: A famous clarinet player told me once that, “A great band is a well rehearsed band.” Practice, practice, practice…I never forgot that. In jazz, there is definitely room for improvization, yet the starts and the stops are heard.

CS: Who are some of the artists who inspire you most?

CCP: Ella Fitzgerald. Her voice, tone and phrasing are second to none. Frank Sinatra’s phrasing is great too.

CS: Near future plans for you and your music?

CCP: Colleen & Friends have a number of gigs between now and the end of the year, and that keeps us going with rehearsals and music selections, and the collaboration is wonderful! 

CS: Thank you Colleen for visiting with us at Sounds of Syracuse.

CCP: You do great work. Thank you for having me.


Chuck Schiele
Chuck Schiele is a lifelong, award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member Quatrocollective.com and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.