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The thrill of being able to write this story is comparable only to the thrill of doing an interview with the incredibly talented winner of TV's hottest new vocal talent competition, NBC's "The Voice."
Javier Colon isn't a new face to the campus market and in fact, credits the shows he's done for schools over the last several years as his saving grace. "(Laughs) I feel indebted to the campus community for embracing me the last few years of my life, and allowing me to continue to work. Honestly, if I hadn't gotten involved in this market, I probably would have been doing something else completely unrelated to music a long time ago. The campus market enabled me to take care of my family and our expenses and I love touring it. I still look forward to performing at them and have some on the books that I am going to play even while trying to grind out the new album."
Part of Javier's prize package for winning "The Voice" was a contract with Universal Republic Records to cut his own album...a road he's been down before with much less positive results than anticipated this go around. With the publicity from the show and the UR label officially behind him, things are likely to turn out much differently, but it still won't be easy. Since winning the show only a few weeks ago, Javier has been completely submerged in the studio, pushing to get the album done for its November release date. Strangely enough, Javier hasn't always been able to appreciate the campus market. Despite a lifetime in music (Javier's father was in radio, his first song was written by thirteen and he even studied music at The University of Hartford's Hartt School of Music), he wasn't aware of this niche market for quite some time. "The crazy thing was I had no idea that these conferences existed until a few years ago. It was a shock to know there was so much booking being done and it was an honor for me to get into it. It was a real game-changer for me because of how much work I was able to get so quickly."
CAM has had some great and high-profile covers, but as editor I'm hard-pressed to remember a single cover that is more timely and highly publicized than Javier's. He is literally the most in-demand entity in the world right now, working with huge artists and on dream projects.
One might think now that Javier has "made it" the campus market perhaps will fade away for him, intended primarily as a stepping stone on his way to success. This couldn't be further from the truth. "The college community will not be forgotten by any means. I am working with The College Agency and everyone there is very excited to get some more shows on the books. There are definitely a lot more opportunities; a lot of folks now are much more familiar with what I do and offers are more prevalent, but that doesn't mean I will forget where I came from. I would love to continue to do college shows, I have a few coming up in the next few months that I am really excited about."
Regular readers of the publication might think Tom Faessel and University of Akron have us on their payroll with as much coverage as we give them, but we swear it is simply because they actively participate in the magazine and feature one of the best programs in the country. Completely unsolicited, Javier verifies this, bringing up U of A and it's magnificent EJ Thomas Performing Arts Hall as an shining example of the pinnacle of his campus market success.
"You know, when I used to go play Akron, the staging was interesting. EJ Thomas is such a beautiful venue and large enough that when they host coffeehouse events with less than a few hundred people, the performer actually turns around at front and center stage. There is so much room the audience is set up cabaret style upstage for a more intimate setting. This has always been where I played, now I am going back and they are opening the show up to the community and we're going to try and fill up the 3,000 seats on the theater side and the stage is all mine (laughs). I always joked with them about coming one day and playing in the "big house" and now its happening. I am so excited and the campus audiences are so enthusiastic. There are definitely going to be more college shows in my future, there's no doubt about that."
Probably the most exemplary thing about Javier, and this will sound crazy if you've heard him sing, is his personality and humility. He is soft-spoken but direct, he is incredibly talented but not ego-driven and he is incredibly easy to work and speak with. Even this may not seem like enough to be a bigger attribute than his incredible voice, but in a business where humility and talent very often lie in an inverse proportion, its a huge asset for a buyer to know they'll be comfortable with and catered to by their talent. "Nothing is guaranteed. It is a blessing and a curse to have been in the music business for as long as I have because I know how it works. Things could be great now but then slowly taper off. Knowing how fickle this business can be, I understand the good times don't always last forever and I might need to be prepared for that. It has been a struggle for me to fully enjoy what is going on with 'The Voice' because I am so jaded and business-minded that I am constantly thinking about the future. There is no time to really celebrate; rather than sit back on my laurels and ride the wave, this is truly the time to work harder and maintain momentum and grow from where I am right now. This is obviously a much better place than I was before, but I have to make sure that I stay focused and work on moving forward from here."
As someone who's "been there, done that," it may seem surprising that Javier even auditioned for a show like "The Voice," the type of reality show forum so often reserved for up-and-comers with nothing to lose. " 'The Voice' spoke to my current management company, International Artists Agency, about unsigned talent that would be a good fit for the program. Having been dropped from Capitol Records in 2006, we have been trying for a new deal for the last five years to no avail. No one wanted to take a chance on me. Two weeks before we got the email accepting me to 'The Voice' I did a showcase for Blue Note Records in New York and had extremely high hopes we would get that deal. I met with them several times and many people in the building seemed really excited and wanted to sign me. There were some others who were on the fence and I guess those won out. We got the pass email after the showcase and it felt like a dagger. I didn't know what other opportunities were possibly going to come along and then we hear about 'The Voice,' and we said 'Let's give it a shot.'"
Even going for "The Voice" took a leap of faith. After passing the first stage of auditions, the producers requested Javier come out to L.A. for another round...and block out a six week chunk of his schedule in the process. "This was for a second phase of auditions, but I had to commit for six weeks and if I did, I would miss my Northern Plains showcase, along with four or five college shows already on the books. When I tell you these shows were my main income for my family, I mean it. The college market was all I had and missing these shows and the showcase would be a huge hit and risk. The last time I did Northern Plains I got 40 shows. That's an entire half a year or more of revenue, so to commit to do "The Voice" I was backing out of what would set us up for the rest of the year. My wife and I had a tough decision as to whether it was a risk we could take because I knew I was one of thousands upon thousands of people auditioning. This would put us in financial jeopardy; I can't say our stability was at risk because there really was none."
Sometimes risks pay off. "I really thought it through and talked to some of my great and amazing friends that were in a much better place financially than I was. They basically said "Listen, this is an opportunity you have to take and if we have to float you some money so that you can take care of your bills while you are going for your dream, then we have your back." I can't express my gratitude for those responsible for making this possible, I would have never done it otherwise and put my family in that much risk."
Apparently their faith and investment paid off and surely any debts have been repaid from Javier's $100,000 prize. Included in this prize was his record contract, his album is due in November.
Incredibly talented, humble and popular, Javier Colon is a dream artist to work with and still reasonably available to book in the campus market. His fall availabilities will be limited due to album production, but contact The College Agency about the possibilities and as of this writing, his spring is open. Here's your chance to snag the hottest act on the market.
BOOK IT! For more information on bringing Javier Colon in for your next concert, contact The College Agency at (952) 440-4777 or through their website at www.thecollegeagency.com