she bet on herself and is here to stay

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Collette Campbell – she bet on herself and is here to stay

Collette Campbell and her two younger sisters Lauren and Katherine are from Rockville Center, Long Island, New York. Her mother Sue and father Joe, encouraged her to sing classical and opera and when she was in middle school, Collette began taking formal voice training. She always wanted to be a performer. Collette tested with the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) every year, receiving a certificate and would be invited to attend numerous all-state chorus competitions.

Ross Brown and Collette Campbell formed CC and the Sunsetters performing Tuesdays at the Sunset Pier.

She received a scholarship and studied musical theater at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania, graduating in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater. The curriculum was very comprehensive and included stagecraft, lighting, and directing. Collette had the opportunity to study abroad. She spent a full semester, working with teaching artists from all over Europe, in a conservatory theater program at Accademia Dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy (near Tuscany), studying voice and movement. During this time, she was able to connect with her mother’s Italian family, the Silecchias, who are from Bitetto, a small town near Bari, Italy. It was an amazing semester.

Upon graduation, Collette returned to Long Island, getting some theater work with minimal activity. She was accepted into an theater apprenticeship program in Portland, Oregon over 3,000 miles from home. After a couple of years, she returned to New York, grateful for the experience. She moved to Queens with a roommate about the same time the COVID pandemic began. Work was hard to find but she continued auditioning and working, intermittently, with cover bands and at private parties,

Collette Campbell, Jillian Todd, Nina Newton, McKenna Carlson sing a Thank You tribute to those of us that document the Key West Music scene.

Collette had investigated moving to Nashville and other potential music scenes. One of the family members owned a time share at the Galleon Resort in Key West. In January 2022, her father invited her to come to Key West with them. They were walking around the old harbor and she heard some very good music coming from Schooner Wharf Bar so she stopped in. She really enjoyed the music. The band was Ross Brown, Tommy Tangie, and John Skiff.

Two days later, at Virgilio’s, she saw Ross with the same group again. She had a chance to speak with Ross on a break. He was from Allentown where she had attended college, and they struck up a conversation. Collette was getting a few gigs a month in the New York off-season, and Ross explained he had 10-12 gigs a week in Key West. Collette was immediately interested in the Key West scene.

Collette Cambell is the winner of the Key West Music Award for Rising Star after arriving in Key West 15 months ago. Amazing talent!

On advice from Ross Brown, who came up to New York that summer touring, she learned to play solo gigs honing her guitar skills. She decided that she wanted to try being a full-time musician. She had a good vibe about moving, found a roommate in Key West, and in December 2022 moved to Key West. Ross encouraged her and shared his contacts, helping Collette to find work quickly in Key West as he has done many times with other musicians.

Collette has been very successful in a very short period of time. She and Ross were nominated for the Key West Music Awards, Duo Act of the Year, and Collette won this year’s Rising Star award. She began writing some original music this past summer and is working on her first recordings at Jeff Dalton’s Sunrise Studios in Marathon.

Collette’s first gig was at Pinchers on Duval Street. One night a group of tourists walked in who were a bit loud. They were from New York also and seemed to have good energy. Collette decided to play one of her new originals. She started to explain the song to her new audience. It’s a song about her Uncle Tony Silecchia who had died suddenly and unexpectedly. The funeral seemed equally sudden – everyone spoke of her uncle in the past tense. Collette had just spoken to him a few days earlier. The name of the song is “Past Tense” and is a very touching ballad.

While she was performing, one of the New York tourist set a small bottle near her feet. After the song ended, he came over to her and they spoke. The small bottle contained the ashes of his best friend who has recently passed. Her music and the words of her song had touched him in a very special way.

She had a good feeling and followed her intuition diving headfirst into the Key West music scene. She feels she bet on herself and is here to stay. Her main gig is playing solo, on Monday and Wednesday evening, at the Tipsy Rooster, located on Simonton Street. She and Ross are playing duets frequently at Blue Heaven and, most recently, formed a group called “CC and the Sunsetters” along with Mark King and Evan Valentine. They perform every Tuesday at Sunset Pier. The Sunsetters are also scheduled this evening at Salute’s beach pavilion from 5-8pm.

Collette and Ross are planning a summer tour together this year. Check out her website at:


Collette Campbell, Jillian Todd, Nina Newton, and McKenna Carlson sin a tribute to those of us that document the Key West music scene.

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