Hear Colton share his story in youthworker interlinc “TalkBack” meeting.
Colton Dixon’s 2013 debut, A Messenger, set the record for biggest first-week sales by a new solo Christian act, becoming the No. 1 selling album of 2013 by a new Christian artist and the No. 9 best selling album of 2013 in the Christian genre overall. A Messenger also became the No. 22 best-selling album across all genres that same year, while Dixon was still reeling from his highly publicized seventh place finish on Season 11 of American Idol.
Awards and accolades followed. Colton received three Dove Award nominations, winning for Best Contemporary/Rock Album, and he was nominated for Male Artist of the Year at the 2014 KLOVE Fan Awards. Colton also racked up two No. 1 radio singles in 2013 and toured with Third Day, TobyMac and Josh Wilson. And he was recently named an Official Steinway Artist by the legendary piano maker.
It was a dream debut, but Idol fame can be fleeting without a strong foundation and a solid sense of who you are as an artist and a person. Fortunately, as Colton Dixon readies his sophomore project, Anchor (August 19, 19 Recordings/Capitol CMG), he’s as grounded as ever, with his feet planted firmly in faith and family and a clear idea of where he’s headed artistically.
“I have a strong passion for my generation, to motivate them to the keep the torch lit,” he says. That passion plays a starring role on the new album. After the first record, he realized how easy it was to get distracted, to drift from where he needed to be. That’s where the title Anchor came from. That tendency to drift wasn't something unique to him. Colton knew that others would relate, and that he could encourage listeners by being honest about his own struggles.
As he began writing, Colton felt more at home with the process on his second outing and the music definitely benefits. He co-wrote with renowned songwriters and artists such as Trevor McNevan (TFK), Matthew West, TobyMac, Ben Glover, Matt Bronleewe and the album’s producers. He already knew many of them so that awkward phase was gone, allowing for much more honesty in the room this time around.
Not that there weren’t some awe-inducing moments. “I was so nervous to write with Toby,” Colton recalls. “He walked into the room and I could barely speak, saying, ‘Hello, Mr. Mac.’” The veteran artist quickly put Colton at ease, though, and their sessions yielded tracks like “Our Time Is Now,” which has become a favorite to play live. TobyMac even lent his voice to the tune.
Recorded in Nashville’s Berry Hill neighborhood, a creative hub dotted with recording studios, Anchor was produced by David Garcia (TobyMac, Mandisa, Newsboys) and Red Decibel (Switchfoot, Kelly Clarkson, Jeremy Camp). On it, Dixon explores not just new topics, but new sonic territory as well.
As an artist, Colton’s style is dramatic, and he’s not afraid to take risks. The result is a diverse record that relies on a variety of unique elements. You’ll hear metal breakdowns, full-on classic rock, piano-driven vocals and everything in between. He describes “Loud & Clear” as sounding like “Chris Daughtry on steroids,” while lead single “More Of You” has an almost worship vibe that took everyone involved by surprise.
The end product is an edgy rock record with appeal that crosses generational lines to have mass appeal. Audiences that were granted an early preview of the new album have responded even more enthusiastically than Colton had hoped. But in the end, its not just about making music that is fun to listen to - the goal is to create songs that have the ability to inspire listeners.
Or as Colton explains it, “My hope is that at the end of it all, you feel closer to God than you did when you first pressed ‘play.’”
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