God has blessed Colton Dixon in tremendous ways, from his time on American Idol to his current thrill of his debut album A Messenger. Growing up, Colton had a tremendously tight family, as witnessed on Season 11 of American Idol. He and his sister Schyler would create music shows for their parents or reenact “Fear Factor” in their yard. He would spend hours playing catch after his dad returned from work, “I loved sports. I started playing baseball when I was probably 3 or 4, and gave that up for music when I was 15 or 16. I think that was a good decision now,” the former athlete says with a laugh. Dixon felt a call to do music during a piano recital at age 13, “I was going to play ‘I Can Only Imagine’ by Mercy Me and my piano teacher set up a microphone in front of the piano and said, ‘now you’re going to sing this, too.’ I remember thinking, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no. I think it’s best for everybody if I don’t sing. I’m not good’.” To Colton’s surprise he captured the hearts of his audience.
Even though it hasn’t hit him yet, the impact that he’s had for the Lord’s kingdom by proclaiming Christ’s name on Idol has been tremendous. “We’re supposed to live by example and that intrigues those who don’t believe. You don’t necessarily have to preach the Word down their throats, so I just try to be positive behind-the-scenes and live my life right.” He’s as genuine in front of the camera as he is behind. His humble approach to life is a true testament of his character and his relationship with Christ, “Make it clear who you stand for. Just let your actions be your testimony,” states Colton, who is elated by the unimaginable opportunity he had to speak of God’s love on national TV. “I’m very thankful and blessed to have that opportunity and platform, not only to reach believers who watch the show, but to also show those who maybe don’t believe or who are on the fence, there’s someone bigger and stronger out there.”
One of the most pivotal moments in his music career has been, “that last chance that I had to sing [on Idol], that was totally a moment between me and the Lord. I blocked everything else out and thanked Him for the opportunity and spent time with Him on that stage. I felt that God was just sitting right in front of me and we were having a conversation. I’ve seen what He has done with that. Spiritually, I felt full walking off that stage and it was really, really amazing.”
A short time after singing “Everything” to end his time on Idol, Colton was blessed by the opportunity to write one of the songs for his debut album with Jason Wade, lead singer for Lifehouse. “I’m a huge Lifehouse fan so that was really amazing to be able to that.” Colton expressed that the writing process for A Messenger involved taking all his emotions from Idol and laying them out in the open, “There were so many different writers batting around ideas of what we wanted to write about and tying that into my faith and what it means to me, those have been definitely the most fun writing sessions.” Each song on A Messenger is teeming with deeply intimate themes on faith. So, before going into any writing session Colton would, “Prep my heart going in, and say, ‘God just use this writing session today. God, if there is someone out there that needs to hear this song, then you just present this song to us and make it come out so easy that it is obvious that it’s you, and not us.’ And, more times than not, we’d have a song written and demoed in a couple of hours, which is pretty amazing.”
While writing the song “You Are,” Colton and a friend collaborated on the meaning of worship music, “We just wanted to sum up worship and what that meant to us, and have that used as a worship song for churches or whatever, and it ended up being the single, which is really cool.” Colton has a unique perspective when it comes to Christian music. Even though he’s on a Christian label, some songs that speak to him the most are popular mainstream songs, “When it comes to Christian music, I don’t think it has to be worship music per se. I love worship music, so I hope you don’t take that the wrong way, I think there can be music that glorifies God even in mainstream music.”
His other single, “Never Gone” was composed while on American Idol, “I wasn’t necessarily in dark places on Idol, but I was disconnected from friends and family for a long period of time and I remember feeling just a little disconnected from God because everything was happening so fast and you don’t really have a lot of time to get into the Word. I’m sitting up in bed and I was just like, okay, ‘God I need to hear that you are still beside me.’ I totally heard it loud and clear. He said, ‘I’m still beside you. I’ve never left and I promised you that I would never leave’.” Colton shares his personal lesson from this moment that he hopes will impact his listeners by saying, “I guess for me there have been times when I’m calling out to God and I wind up talking so much that I completely miss what He has to say. We are definitely a talking generation. So just stop and listen to and try to hear what He has to say.”
Colton also wrote about hearing God in the midst of the chaos and “The Noise.” “I was at the mansion one night and I stayed up a little longer than I should have, but I needed to talk to God and I remember just sitting in my bed and just listening, there’s all the chaos going on and honestly one of the songs on the record describes it.” Socially, we’re taught to seek out our identity through gadgets, material items and media, but God asks us to quiet our hearts and our minds and pursue His identity for us. “You’re suppose to fight through everything the world is giving you and hear that still small voice to know that you are going to make it through the end of the day, that everything is going to be all right even through the noise,” proclaims Colton when describing his album.
So, in the midst of all the chaos in his life, through the increase in popularity from his time on Idol and the release of his debut album, how does Colton manage to keep his focus on Christ and listen to God’s still small voice? “Man, waking up in the morning and doing a devotional is one of the most important things that I can do everyday,” says Colton about taking time for a Sabbath. “You can wake up a few minutes early, at least a few minutes early, just to prep your heart and put it in the right place. We are all capable of doing that, it’s just a matter of setting our alarms back. We’re just lazy. I’m totally lazy in the morning, but, man, you do that you’ll be amazed what happens throughout the day. Just to set the tone for the day, I say, ‘God I want you to use me today for your kingdom’.” Colton lives a very expectant life. He looks forward to seeing God work in his life throughout the day. “I believe that there’s more ways than just sitting and spending time in the Word with God for you to experience God, it can also come through different things throughout the day, whether it’s Him coming through someone else or Him using you to be a light.”
God, Your scars remind us of who we are in You.
One of A Messenger’s most powerful songs is “Scars.” “I think scars are beautiful. Because it’s kind of like a history book,” proclaims Dixon. This song represents so many of the torn and hurt souls in the world. Colton asked his fans to share their personal struggles in life, which in turn became the inspiration for the song “Scars.” “God gives us the opportunity to learn and gives us a new day to start fresh. So, that’s where the phrase, ‘scars remind us of who we are,’ came from. Then at the end of the song, I twisted that and really drove my faith into this and said, talking to God, ‘Your scars remind us of who we are’.” Colton continues by saying, “When Jesus died on the cross he had scarred hands and feet and those are the only things that are still with Him when we’re going to see Him in heaven. I’m so excited to see those because it’s going to make it so real that He really did die for me. God, Your scars remind us who we are in You. That’s the real message I wanted to drive home in the song, ‘Scars’.”
When it comes to Dixon’s personal scars, he proclaims that, “Pride was something that God needed to humble me from that first season. God was teaching me to trust in Him and not to let it go to my head,” states Colton. But, according to Colton, the scars that impact most youth today is peer pressure, “It’s who they decide to surround themselves with. Good or bad friends, good influences or bad influences, it’s how they react to that peer pressure.” Colton explains that he’s a bit stubborn, so he felt pretty protected when it came to peer pressure, “It really took a lot for me to go along with what someone was saying, good or bad. I just had in my mind what I wanted to do.” Colton believes surrounding yourself with people who are willing to pour themselves into you is crucial, “I think peer pressure is so strong in teenage years. You just have to be really, really careful, you can kind of nip it in the bud by surrounding yourself with positive influences and good friends. I’m just now escaping the clutches of the teenage years. It’s such a hard time because you’re still figuring out who you are, what you stand for and why you stand for it. You are trying so hard to fit in, and at the same time find your own identity, but then you have someone else trying to do the same thing, and they think they’ve figured it out.” The reality is that, “They probably don’t have it figured out because we’re teenagers and we never have it figured out. But they wind up bringing some of their friends with them and everyone winds up learning that same mistake, it’s that peer pressure.”
“The message behind this entire album comes from John 13:16. It says, ‘a servant isn’t greater than his master nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.’ I believe I’ve been called by God to share these songs that he has laid on my heart and I want others to know that He is first and foremost in this ministry. At the same time, we are all messengers called by God to go out and make disciples of many nations and to spread the good news, so I encourage you to do that. It’d be awesome if my music encourages you to do that. That was my goal, but that is definitely my mission, and I hope that I can get other people on board with me as well.”