(Photo courtesy of TMC & Q Management)
An Interview with Colton Dixon
By Sarah Komisky
Colton Dixon is coming home for the holidays – in more ways than one. Although we first welcomed the beloved mohawk sporting rocker into our homes during his debut on season 11 of American Idol, the artist today is now welcoming us into his home. The 29-year-old who has evolved since he was in the top seven in 2012, is now a newly signed musician on the Atlantic Record label. He, along with wife Annie, are also the proud new parents to twin girls, Ava Dior and Athens Elizabeth. In turn, the current pandemic has opened up time to be off the road to spend his first Christmas with his family. Coinciding, he has also come full circle in terms of his passion to create music for the masses with his acclaimed self-titled EP and holiday release, “Let it Snow.” Moreover, this artist has come home in his honest reflections concerning music, mission, moments off stage, marriage, and more in this newest showcase for Marked Ministry Magazine. Here is a look at Colton’s homecoming.
Sarah: Getting started, let’s talk about “Miracles” which is your single. I know you have experienced so many miracles in your life this 2020. So, how would you encourage others to maybe be more aware of the miracles around them in this season and beyond?
Colton: It says in God’s Word that He works all things together for good who love Him and are called according to His purpose. So, you could call something coincidence or being at the right place at the right time or whatever, but I just wanted to give credit where credit’s due and that God is in fact weaving together the story, this beautiful story for me behind the scenes and there are no coincidences with Him. We kind of set out to write this song about that, not overlooking the little things and calling them for what they really are, which are miracles through and through.
This year, every single person has been in need of a miracle at one point or another, so it’s been so cool to see how God has come through personally and hearing stories of how He’s come through for other people as well. One of those big things being the birth of twins. It’s something we were so excited about and never had a reason to worry about. After quite a long labor, we switched gears to a C-section and they brought our first one out and she wasn’t breathing, so as you can imagine, there’s a big chance to choose fear in that moment.
But I’m so thankful for this song (“Miracles”) and for honestly good teaching in the Word to know that, ‘hey it’s faith or fear,’ and we chose faith, and I’m so glad that we did. So, we started to pray and believe and declare over our daughter that she would be resuscitated and have no side effects or anything like that. And it was the longest 90 seconds of my life, but she started breathing and we give all the credit to God because we know that He was the one giving her oxygen – we just know that.
Sarah: That’s incredible. And I think it’s been such an anthem for so many bringing hope this year. And, as I was doing research and watching some interviews of you, you were talking about your rock bottom that happened a couple years ago that was just a difficult time. Now, people are going through the same thing with job losses. So talk about that time when you were at that low point. One of your songs off the EP is “Devil’s A Liar” and I know when we go through those times when we’re at that low point, those lies can creep in, so how did you deal with that during that time?
Colton: Yeah, for those who don’t know, a few years ago my record label dropped me as an artist. So, as a musician it kind of feels like you lose your job even though that’s not technically the case. It’s a real blow to your ego, it just is, and yeah, I questioned a lot of things. I questioned if music was still the right thing and what I was going to do next, and a lot was up in the air for a second. But my wife said something that just flipped the script for me. She said, “What if this isn’t a set back? What if God is just setting you up for what’s next?” And I’ve learned that in order to embrace the new season and the new whatever that God has for you, you have to let go of the past. God is always wanting to create something new.
So even if you have something in your past, for example, I did the American Idol thing, and that was a big highlight of my career. But if I would’ve spent the rest of my career constantly pointing people back to the past, it would’ve gotten old really quick, right? So, you have to constantly be like, ‘Okay God, what’s new.’ It could be whatever it is in your life that you have to think future, not past in the good and the bad things. So, that was kind of that season for me and I would love to say it was easy and a record label came to the table the next day, but it didn’t. Several months went by and it was hard. It was difficult, but I stood on that word that my wife had that God is setting us up for whatever the next chapter is and I’m going to do it regardless of what it looks like. And a new record label came to the table called Atlantic Records and they were interested in doing a deal. The deal I had originally was with a Christian label and Atlantic is a mainstream label, so I didn’t know at first. I was like, ‘Man I’m flattered. God, is this a part of the plan?’ And we [my wife and I] just had so much peace about it. I’m glad that God and the Holy Spirit will do that with us. And He’ll guide us and give us a check on things we don’t need to do and He’ll give us a pat on the back on the right calls and that’s what this was.
So, it’s been a really crazy journey, some ups and downs, but I’m so excited to be with this current label and to have the opportunity to reach people who would never set foot in a church or to flip on Christian radio or any of that stuff. So, I’m trying to write songs that will edify the church and reach a demographic that again wouldn’t necessarily turn the ear on when they hear Jesus. It’s been a fun and interesting experiment.
Sarah: I think that’s so needed because that’s something we want to do at our magazine – to reach beyond the church and to welcome everybody into our doors and say, ‘This is who God is’ and make a bridge. And, I truly appreciate that that you want to expand those borders as well. And, as I was just reading about this new EP, I saw that you wrote 70 songs and I was like, ‘Wow!’ That was impressive! You’ve wrote with different producers and things in Los Angeles for this new release. So, talk about how you have found not labeling your music “Christian” or “Secular” to be freeing in your creativity?
Colton: That’s a great question. My absolute most favorite part about this entire EP has been the writing process and it’s because I’ve been able to enter the room with people who did not have the same beliefs as I had. In fact, some of them had the exact opposite beliefs and moral standards that I did, and that’s okay. I think life happens when you’re willing to have conversations and just decide on the forefront that no one has to be right or wrong. Just to be able to talk and be civil with people, I know that’s something I’ve needed this year. I know that’s something that a lot of people need this year. And being in the room with these people, we were able to have really beautiful conversations about religion, politics, all kinds of things, and at the end of the day, come together and write a song that we both believed in. I think following what Jesus did when He was here. He would go out and reach the people who others would never ever be seen with. Especially the Pharisees and certain circles because they were ashamed or they were outcasts or whatever, and so Jesus took it upon Himself to go out and to seek after those people. And, I think as the church, I wish I saw more of that. I kind of saw this whole opportunity as a chance to reach people and it starts with the songwriter.
Sarah: I’ve seen you’ve been able to do that in music and in so many different ways, such as People Magazine covering your story and following your journey with your twins, and when you got married, as well as being on the Doctors show. And, a lot of that was happening this year, so, maybe talk about those experiences. What was that like being able to bring light into those places?
Colton: I’m just thankful and I know what it is. It’s just God’s favor. I don’t mean that to sound arrogant, but I just know that He has called me to a certain purpose and He’s gonna open doors that no man can shut. So, whenever opportunities come like this, for instance Atlantic Records, when you look at their lineup it’s like, ‘Man these are the top dogs in music, period. Why in the world would they be interested in doing a deal with me?’ But then I go back and I’m like, ‘God you’re so cool, you’re opening these doors and it’s just my job to walk through.’ So when other opportunities come through like the Doctors or with the relationship with People magazine, it’s just like, I don’t understand why, but I think it’s so cool. And I will absolutely soak up the opportunity, while we [my wife and I] have it, to tell people, ‘Hey there’s a way to do this where you don’t have to give up your moral code in order to be in the music industry.’ Or, ‘There’s a way to do this where prayer works and let us be a testament to that.’ We prayed and believed that we saw it come to pass, and so we’re excited that we get to be that part of a testimony for someone else. God says we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the words of our testimony. So, by the blood of Jesus we’ve overcome, but then we have to tell people about it. We have to give people a firsthand recollection of how that’s true in our lives. And so, I’m excited that we’ve been able to do that on some pretty big platforms. Yeah, so super exciting.
Sarah: That is exciting. I wanted to go back to the American Idol days for a moment, and I know that music, being an artist were probably all dreams that God gave you. And yet, American Idol was very unexpected in how it came across your path. So, how did you begin to steward this role that you were given very suddenly of being in the public eye?
Colton: I would love to say that it was easy and that it happened over night you know, but American Idol was actually a two-year process for me. The first year my sister won an audition, so I went with her and she convinced me to audition outside with her. So, I went in and we both went for it and I made it to right before the live shows that year. And man, I was so arrogant and prideful and it took that summer for God to deal with that with me and a couple opportunities happened. I remember the Ellen show called, which, just blew my mind. But it honestly just kind of made my head bigger than it needed to be. During that season, like I said, ‘I was humbled and I’m so glad,’ but I realized very quickly it’s like, ‘OK I made it loud and clear I can’t do this on my own. I don’t need to make this about me because honestly, it’s not even that satisfying at the end of the day.’
People think that fame is the end all be all. It’s really not. It’s overrated. It’s so empty at the end of the day, it really is. And money and all that stuff, I’ve never been like showering in money or anything [laughs]. Just of what I’ve known, it’s like, the only thing that truly satisfies is Jesus. And it sounds so churchy, but it’s true.
So, the next year, when I went back into Idol and that was the mega-surprise. I really was just there for my sister. And she had gone into audition, and they asked her about me, that whole thing you know – crazy. But I went into that year… with just a new perspective in having a clear vision of what I needed to do, what I wanted to do. So, if something didn’t fit in line with that, the choice was pretty clear. I wasn’t perfect. The Lady Gaga song slipped into there somehow. I think Red Leather Pants slipped in there too somehow [laughs]. But at the end of the day I knew what I wanted to do. I knew what I was called to. So as soon as Idol ended, that’s when I started my career. And I’m just so thankful to Idol for preparing me not just musically, business wise, and all that stuff, but growing so much spiritually during that year.
Sarah: I love hearing just the journey of how it all led to the next step and what God was doing in your story. And, I want to fast forward a little bit to “Identity.” That album was released, and then it seemed like you were walking through some of those truths at a later time. That seemed to happen with the song “Miracles.” And so, how do you think we cannot waste our present pain to be used for good in our tomorrow?
Colton: Yeah, like I mentioned earlier, God works all things together for good for those who He loves and are called according to His purpose. He takes what was meant for evil and turns it for good. So, if you’re in a really bad situation and you can’t explain why, you’re just in the middle of it (hello 2020), just know that nothing’s wasted. Absolutely nothing’s wasted. God not only redeems it, but He will set you up. Just trust Him and He will set you up to come out on top every single time, I promise you. It doesn’t mean it’ll happen tomorrow, but it’s in the little daily things that if you’re faithful in the small things, He’ll be faithful with the big things. It’s just how it works. So, yeah, I would say that even if it’s the worst year you’ve ever had, which wouldn’t be that surprising, right? Just hold on because 2021’s right around the corner. And that doesn’t mean your breakthrough will come in 2021, but just start now in the little things and say, regardless of what it looks like, I’m gonna believe God at His Word. And faith isn’t really faith in what you can see. Faith is faith because it’s faith in what you can’t see. That’s what makes it faith, right? God’s good all the time, that’s what I know and that’s what I try to stand on. It’s harder to implement into your life, but as far as the truth of it, it’s really simple.
Sarah: And I think we really need to be reminded to go back to those simple truths that we can all overlook in their simplicity, but they’re so cornerstone to our faith. I want to jump in and dig a little deeper into this EP. One of my favorite songs is “Can’t Quit You.” That song is so good. I was looking all over the place for what the meaning of the song was, and so I was like, ‘I’m going to ask him tomorrow for me and for all our readers.’ So, I want to know, what’s the story? Because, I mean this year with relationships on rocky soil, I think this song really hits home in many different ways. So, what is the meaning behind it?
Colton: Honestly, this is like one of the first love songs that I would actually play for people that I’ve written for my wife. I had attempted a few before this one, but I’m like, ‘no.’ They’re either really cheesy or didn’t say what I wanted them to. But this song, I’m like, ‘You know what, this is it. This is what marriage is.’ Marriage is, regardless of what it looks like or what happens, I will choose to keep loving you and I will choose to stay with you because that’s what we committed to. So that’s my wife and I’s motto. No matter what life throws at us, we’ll never stop choosing to love each other. So, this idea behind “Can’t Quit You” is just that. It’s kind of a fun take on that idea. It’s not so serious, but man, love is a choice. And I think we forget that. Especially in relationships and marriage. It’s like, not only did we first choose, but we also committed. So, whenever you don’t feel it, you don’t go based on your feelings. You go based on the commitment. So, you have to choose to love sometimes. The feelings come later, and I’m not saying that they’re not there with my wife and I. But you just have to choose. I would rather fight for my marriage than fight against my marriage. So, yeah, so many layers behind the song that you wouldn’t necessarily hear at first listen. But, I think it’s a message that I wish my generation would get a hold of because I think it would keep a lot of marriages together.
Sarah: Well I’m so glad that I got to hear the meaning because this is my personal favorite.
Colton: I love that. It’s probably one of my favorites to play actually. It’s just a fun vibe.
Sarah: Well this December and January, our new issue theme is “Home for the Holidays.” And I know you have “Let It Snow” out right now, so talk about that song and maybe what you hope it brings to other people in this really difficult holiday season.
Colton: Yeah, we were really late to the game on a Christmas song in general, picking the song, and even having the conversation. I’m pretty sure it was September or October before we decided. Normally, people are finishing up Christmas records by July. But I’m like, ‘You know what, let’s look at a bunch of different songs.’ I wanted to capture a feeling. That’s what I was after this year.
It’s the first Christmas with my girls. What is that going to look like? And I just kind of pictured it and I’m like, ‘We’re gonna be on the sofa, fire’s going. We’ve got hot cocoa, apple cider, or whatever. And we got them in our arms, gifts under the tree, and they’re not going to understand it right now, but we’re going tell them the Jesus story and how He was born. And it would really be icing on the cake if it was really snowing outside, right?’ I live in Nashville, and we actually got snow the other day. It was a miracle.
But we’re looking at songs and a track for “Let It Snow” came across my desk. And I’m like, ‘Hey this actually feels like what I want to feel like.’ And I reached out to the guy who did it and it was the guy who produced “Not Goodbye” on my record. So, we bounced ideas back and forth, and it’s actually one of the first song’s I’ve recorded vocals for in my own studio, so that was kind of fun. New adventure for me. But it’s a classic and we didn’t want to stray away too far from the roots. But, we of course added our own spin to it. It’s really simple. It’s piano, my bass, and sleigh bells basically, so I think it perfectly encapsulates that Christmas Eve right before you go to bed, hoping for a white Christmas – you know all of those feelings. So, I’m really stoked on what we were able to come up with.
Sarah: Right, I love that. I think it was such a good rendition of the song and when you think of the phrase, “Home for the Holidays,” it means so many things to different people. Some look forward to the food or the decorations or who they’re going be with. And of course, the given is, like you said, your wife and girls. So, what aspect of “Home for the Holidays” are you most looking forward to?
Colton: I’ve realized really quick that home isn’t where my house is. It’s where my family is. So, traveling on the road, I’ve had my wife with me pretty much at, I would say, 99% of the shows I’ve played. Up until this point, my wife has been able to be there and I’m so thankful because wherever she is, that’s where home is, right? Sure, we’re most comfortable in our house, but as long as she’s there, I feel complete – if that makes sense. It sounds so cheesy. So now with my girls, we could spend Christmas here, you know, wherever. As long as I’m with you them, I’m home for the holidays.
Find out more about Colton Dixon by visiting www.coltondixon.com