"I wanted to make an album where I could be free to be myself, with no walls or boundaries," Javier Colon says of his new album Gravity. "I wanted the freedom to be myself musically, and I was surrounded by people who encouraged me to do that."
Blessed with a stunningly soulful voice, an uncanny songwriting talent, a charismatic personality and a commanding stage presence, Javier Colon has already won the attention of an international fan base that's embraced his personally-charged, acoustic-textured blend of pop, rock and R&B, an effortlessly distinctive style that he's dubbed "acoustic soul."
Having been introduced millions of TV viewers as the winner on the inaugural season of NBC's The Voice, singer-songwriter-guitarist Colon is set to take his recording career to the next level with Gravity, his fourth album and his first for Concord Records.
Indeed, the 13-song Gravity, on which Colon wrote or co-wrote all but three songs, marks a creative milestone for the artist. Such musically compelling, emotionally resonant tunes as "For A Reason," "Clear the Air," "Walking Blind" and the memorable title track demonstrate the breadth of his talents, matching his distinctly expressive voice with irresistible melodies, insightful lyrics and Colon's own distinctive acoustic guitar work, which sets the tone for the album's spacious instrumental arrangements.
Recorded in Brooklyn, Nashville, Los Angeles and Utah as well as the artist's home state of Connecticut, Gravity marks a turning point in an eventful musical journey that's taken Javier Colon to a lot of interesting places. The son of a Dominican father and a Puerto Rican mother, Colon emerged as a musical prodigy early in life. His gifts took him to the University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music, where he founded an a cappella R&B quintet that performed at Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater. Soon after graduating from Hartt with a degree in Music Education, he became lead singer of the neo-funk group EmCQ.
When EmCQ opened for funk-jazz luminaries Soulive, Javier's talents drew the attention of Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno, whose recommendation led to him becoming lead singer of the Derek Trucks Band. Colon spent two years touring with Trucks' group, with the band's eclectic rock/soul/blues/jazz brew providing an impressive vehicle for his talent and versatility. After striking out on his own and signing a solo deal with Capitol Records, Javier released two well-regarded albums in urban-R&B mode, before making the audacious move of casting off that commercial direction in order to pursue a more personal approach to music-making.
After releasing the acoustic EP The Truth on his own label, Javier's career took an unexpected but propitious turn in 2011, when he became the winner on The Voice's first season, receiving a recording contract with Universal Republic Records. The new deal yielded the well-received album Come Through for You as well as the holiday-themed EP A Very Acoustic Christmas. But disagreements over creative direction caused the artist to once again make the decision to seek out a label situation better suited to his musical goals.
"I'm grateful to The Voice for allowing me to be myself in front of tens of millions of people," Javier notes. "It was the greatest thing that could have happened to me, and the experience gave me the confidence to fight to be my real self musically. I was happy with the album that I made for Universal, for the most part, but it was kind of an arranged marriage and it didn't work out. But that's OK, I'm a firm believer in everything happening for a reason. Now I'm in situation with Concord where I can make the music that I've always wanted to make."
The new label association yields substantial creative results throughout Gravity, which finds Javier Colon delivering some of his most accomplished songwriting and most inspired performances to date.
"It's always been my goal as a songwriter," he says, "to write songs that people can relate to their own experiences, or to get people to step out of their own shoes for a few minutes and see what somebody else's life might be like."
Colon set the stage for Gravity's release with some recent overseas successes, including a run of shows in Japan with renowned jazz saxophonist Dave Koz, and a series of concerts in Mexico and South America with Maroon 5 (whose frontman Adam Levine was Javier's coach on The Voice).
"Those were two of the most amazing experiences of my life," says Colon. "On the Maroon 5 shows, I was just the opener, but the audiences were so affectionate and appreciative that there were times on stage that I was moved to tears. I sang a song or two in Spanish, and the reaction was so incredible that I'm planning on recording some songs in Spanish for my fan base in Latin America."
Those experiences helped to ignite Colon's excitement about getting back on the road and bringing Gravity to his loyal and growing fan base.
"I get emails and messages from fans, saying that my music has moved them or touched them, or helped them when they were in a dark place," he says. "That's something that I take very seriously. Knowing that other people are listening on that level makes me feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.
"Music is powerful," Colon continues. "It can make you cry, it can make you laugh, it can make you dance, and it can make you feel like you're not alone. It can allow you to confront your life, or it can make you forget about life for awhile. My songs have always come from the heart, and from a place of wanting to move people or make people feel something inside.
"I'm glad to be in a position now where I can put music out there that reflects who I am as an artist and a person," he concludes. "As an artist, you live and die by the songs that you sing, and if you sing a song that you're not fully invested in, or a song that you don't really feel, then you're not doing your job as an artist. With Gravity, I got to make an album that I really love from start to finish, and I'm willing to fight for that and live with the consequences."