Mr. Right: Javier Colon
THE VOICE OF JAVIER COLON
By Teryl Warren
Since being crowned the winner of NBC’s hit reality singing competition The Voice, Javier Colon has been realizing his dream come true – complete with earning the coveted prize of $100,000 and a recording contract with Universal Republic Records.
We recently caught up with him to find out about his new album, his whirlwind year and the amazing success story that almost never happened. Javier Colon is, in his own words, “A regular guy who got a really big break.”
The Stratford, Connecticut native has been singing since childhood. When his father purchased an old R& B station when he was in the 8th grade, he unknowingly embarked on a musical journey that would lead him to one of the world’s biggest stages. “I always dreamed of wanting to sing since I was in the 8th grade,” Javier told us. “My father was converting the old R & B station into a Spanish music station, so it was my job to transfer the cart tapes from the station to cassettes so that my mother could listen to the music at home. In the process, I started listening to the music from artists like Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and Donny Hathaway. Since then, I knew this was what I wanted to do.”
For Colon, who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, Spanish music was always in the background in his house. And even now, he infuses the influence of his cultural roots into each of his performances by singing at least one song in Spanish.
Javier earned a degree in music education from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School before embarking on a career as a recording artist. He toured with The Derek Trucks Band for 2 years before ultimately going solo. Eventually, he was signed to Capitol Records; but, in the wake of disappointing sales from his first 2 albums, he was dropped from the label in 2006.
Javier spent the last 5 years trying to get a record deal, playing colleges and local shows. And when he got the call to audition for NBC’s new reality singing competition The Voice, he actually almost didn’t go.
“I have a wife and 2 small daughters, so I was preparing to get a financially stable job with benefits to provide for my family.”
And as it turns out, it was his commitment to his family that ultimately got Javier through the intensity of the reality show competition.
“The idea of performing in front of 4 superstars like Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton is a daunting task,” he shared with us. “The singing competition was tough, and we had some great vocalists. My strategy was just to focus on the things that I could control and sing the best I could from week to week.”
In the aftermath of his historic win, Javier has remained busy with performances, public appearances and recording his upcoming album. Come Through for You is the name of the new album as well as the title track, whose lyrics stem from a promise he made to his wife during some tough times five years ago.
“After being dropped from Capitol Records, I didn’t know or not whether I would ever actually make it,” he confided. Awakened in the middle of the night, at 4AM, he spoke what would later become the lyrics to the song into a digital recorder.
“Essentially, the message of the song is that, although things may not look good right now, but if you hang in there, I promise I’ll come through for you.”
The new album contains many special moments – including elements of rock, pop, dance and some acoustic moments – which rank among Javier’s favorites. In a day when most artists don’t play instruments and studio sessions are dominated by digitally orchestrated tracks, a singer-songwriter with guitar and piano-playing skills like Javier is a rare and welcome treat.
“I love playing instruments because the ability to play instruments helps in the songwriting process and in making a song truly your own,” he told us. In fact, Javier has coined the phrase “acoustic soul” to describe his particular brand of music. “It’s basically taking a pop song, but delivering it in a soulful way – like a cross between John Mayer and Maxwell, or James Taylor and Stevie Wonder.”
“It’s imperative that kids have music in their lives from an early age. Everyone benefits from music in one way or another,” he said. “Kids learn rhythm and time from music and it’s very mathematical. Kids can learn a lot from music.”
As an emerging role model, Javier Colon can speak to artists and inspire them because he’s been there. As much as anyone, he knows just how difficult the journey to the top can be. “My advice to artists who may be on the brink of giving up is to just keep going. You have to try everything you can, be available and open to every opportunity, and never give up because you never know when or where your break is going to come.”
When times were tough, Javier relied on his faith in his craft to carry him through.
“I just really believed that this was what I was supposed to do so my goal was to keep trying until I couldn’t try anymore. I had a record label that I thought was going to sign me in January. They seemed enthusiastic and I really thought it was going to happen, but it didn’t. My faith in my ability to make it as an artist dwindled then. I started thinking about quitting and getting a regular job. Fortunately, I got the audition for The Voice two weeks later.”
With a new record label and artists and fans alike clamoring to find out what’s next, Javier seems poised to finally bring the type of music he loves to mainstream audiences on his own terms.
“I love heartfelt ballads. I like lyrics that move me,” he told us. “Lately I’ve been enjoying a lot of country music. I feel like country music is the only genre where you can still tell stories. I want to bring storytelling in music back to the mainstream,” he explained. ”I want to be able to move people beyond moving them physically in the club. If you can move someone to tears with your lyrics, then that means they’ve listened. Words are powerful. You can beat down barriers with words. You can heal wounds, and even heal some hatred with words.”
Javier’s new album – featuring collaborations like the single “As Long As We Got Love” with Natasha Bedingfield and “Stand Up” with Adam Levine – as well as his Christmas EP are currently available on iTunes. His new video will be released soon and he will be hitting the road on tour in February. For up-to-the-minute Javier Colon news, please visit: www.javiercolon.com.
Photos courtesy of Universal Republic Records