MANILA, Philippines—“Honestly, I have no idea how I got here. But I’m grateful nonetheless!” Colton Dixon candidly replied when asked if he had been personally handpicked by fellow “American Idol” finalist and Filipino-American singing sensation Jessica Sanchez to front her first solo concert at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Valentine’s Day.
Collaborating with his “Idol” colleagues is always a pleasure, said Colton, who first visited the Philippines last year for the Manila leg of their world tour. “I love seeing what the others are up to. Jessica is doing very well here. I just saw her billboards—awesome! I’m proud of everyone,” he said at a recent media huddle.
While all eyes will undoubtedly be on Jessica on Thursday, the lanky and mohawked Tennessee native was determined to give local concertgoers an enjoyable night by giving them a dose of his brand of uplifting music that meshes pop-rock sensibilities with his Christian faith and beliefs.
Colton is expected to do a 30-minute set, and the 21-year-old singer wants to pack in as much material as he could from his debut album “A Messenger,” which is distributed by MCA Music here in the country. “Still, a lot of fans are clamoring for me to do songs I performed on ’Idol,’ so I’m also doing one,” he said.
His 11-track record contains hit singles “Never Gone” and “You Are,” which both did well in Christian music charts in the U.S., such as the iTunes Christian and Gospel Singles and Billboard’s Christian Digital Songs.
Although “A Messenger” was pretty much driven by worship and faith, Colton said he’s not strictly writing for a religious audience. “I don’t want to seclude anyone. I just write what’s in my heart. It’s not limited to any particular religion,” Colton said.
He continued: “I want to inspire—not get all preachy.”
His song “Rise,” for instance “clears one’s mind while going through a rough time.” “You Are,” meanwhile was written for his friend Jared Martin (who plays the guitar for him now), who contemplated committing suicide while battling with depression.
More than creating something ear-pleasing, Colton said he wants people to be encouraged and feel that they’re not alone when they hear his music. He’s all for songs that make listeners get out of bed in the morning with smiles on their faces.
“I just want to put out something positive. I hear so much music about all the wrong things. They might be great in terms of sound, but lyrically, for me, some of them strike a weird chord,” Colton explained.
Is there an effort on his part to strike a balance between what he wants and what the audience wants when it comes to writing music? “Like I’ve said, I don’t want to seclude anyone, so we try to make some of the songs more abstract and open to interpretation. But I’m not going to compromise who I am,” he said.
On a lighter note, Colton shared he wanted to bring her girlfriend over so that they could spend Valentine’s Day together. But unfortunately, it seems that the two will be having a date via Skype.
“I guess I’ll have to make her feel special through computer. That would be a challenge,” he said, laughing.
Colton said that he just recently found out that the Philippines has a huge Christian population. Asked if he would consider starting a career in the country, he said: “I didn’t actually know that there are a lot of Christians here. And it’s cool, awesome. I would love to be back as often as I can.”
Toward the end of the interview, Colton lifted up his left shirt sleeve to reveal a tattoo on of a tree with Jesus in the middle—a simple reminder of why he loves and continues to make music.