Cleveland Jones paid his dues playing underground venues in Atlanta back in the early 2000s. The experience left him jaded and sometimes feeling, as he described it, like a piece of meat. He left the city in 2006 to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Shortly after returning to Atlanta, he was asked to play Sade’s Love Deluxe by Khari Cabral Simmons, and that proved a turning point. “I remember that night,” Cleveland recalls, “because I cried that night.” Those were tears of gratitude and excitement, of potential and self-realization. His emotional reaction had to do with “seeing myself a little bit bigger than I thought I was.” ATL Collective helped Cleveland to believe in himself and to feel respected as an artist

Cleveland believes ATL Collective has created a rare sense of community and collaboration in an industry that too often is about competition. Collaborating with the Collective challenged Cleveland to set foot into new genres and meet new, like-minded musicians.

Playing a Springsteen album, for example, was something he initially was skeptical about but in the end loved. The Collective exposed him to whole new audiences and pulled him out of potential the musical niche he might have otherwise remained in. “Through ATL Collective, I got to collaborate with so many amazing people who I would’ve never guessed I would’ve collaborated with.”

“It’s a wonderful, beautiful melting pot of everybody getting in where they fit in but respecting each other’s differences and tastes in music.”