Colton Dixon is a man of faith, a husband, and a son, but lately he also seems to have settled into his identity as an artist as well. So as an artist, who happens to be a person of faith with a desire to make great music, he hopes to encourage and help others in their search for their own identity. These days he’s enjoying life and he’s more confident, in a good way, though he’ll be the first to admit that hasn’t always been the case.
“The first year I tried out for Idol (American Idol), the whole struggle with ego and pride sunk in. Even in how I talked with my family. It wasn’t too serious, and I think everyone in the industry deals with that at some point or another.”
Still the former American Idol finalist, admits that at one time pride was a challenge until he says he realized the platform he’d been given was not his own and that it came with responsibility.
“I think a platform is something that is borrowed, and now it’s something God gives me every night. So putting that into perspective, I think God was waiting on me—and so he opened the door for me again the next year, and that second time I was much more prepared.”
Indeed he was. Dixon placed 7th that season, and has since performed for over a million fans alongside renowned artists like Toby Mac and Third Day. His debut album grabbed the industry’s attention, setting the record for the biggest first week sales by a solo Christian artist, and the number one selling album by a Christian artist that year. His second album, Anchor with hit single “More of You” was the most played adult contemporary single for 2014. Fast-forward two Dove Awards, and several K-Love nominations later, to his latest album Identity.
Now a more rooted artist and a married man, Colton Dixon is singing about the identity he’s finally established not only in the music industry but with family, and more importantly with his faith. Dixon, a newly wed, credits his marriage to his wife Annie, for helping him learn to be more selfless.
“We love being married. One of my favorite things is having Annie traveling with me. It’s so fun. And honestly one of the bigger things I’ve learned is realizing how selfish you can be. You have to readjust your thinking and learn how to be selfless. For me, that’s an ongoing process and I think Annie would say the same thing. Learning how to serve each other in marriage is something I’m sure we’ll still be learning down the road, but we’re loving it!”
For two, young people, (Colton is 25) the Dixon’s commitment and dedication to faith and one another was already deepened well before their marriage. They have been outspoken about their personal decision to wait for sex until marriage. And while other well-known people have been criticized for similar stances, they weren’t too worried about that.
“It’s a personal decision. We’re not trying to force it on anyone. By saying we waited, we’re not trying to condemn those who didn’t.”
Dixon emphasizes the personal nature of the decision and points again to his faith.
“We took it from scripture. We knew that God wanted us to wait and he designed sex for marriage.” But he admits such decisions are harder than they seem. “We knew that was really important—and with that said, it wasn’t always the easy decision. You really have to set up boundaries, and know where the lines are.”
So they waited and Colton and Annie Dixon wouldn’t change a thing.
“I’m glad we did. It makes it so much more special now that we are married.”
Aside from that, Colton Dixon maintains his marriage to Annie is not much different from anyone else’s, and both value family time and downtime. When they’re not on the road they tend to stick close to their home in the Nashville area.
“Normally, when we get off the road weekends are Monday-Wednesday so Annie and I love to be homebodies. I stay in my sweatpants all day. It’s so much fun, getting that time to rest and relax. We might watch a movie or catch up on a show. It’s really just time for us to chill. We don’t really commit to anything. It’s a good time to get our heads in the right space so we’re ready for the next couple days.”
It is obvious Colton Dixon recognizes that he is fortunate to do what he loves and he emphasizes that while he loves music, for him, everything has a bigger purpose.
“With what I do, it’s not just music entertainment. I have the opportunity to encourage people. And God sometimes uses my songs to radically change people’s lives. That’s such an amazing thing to be a part of. For anyone in life, no matter what they do, if their goal is to do something for themselves they’ll feel empty, but if they have the opportunity to do something bigger than themselves, there is so much more fulfillment in that. I’m glad that God planted this desire in my heart when I was young…Music is just a tool to encourage people and to give people hope and tell people about Jesus. That’s been an amazing journey and I love that I get to do that.”
It is that commitment to purpose and a desire for his music to change lives, that led him to his latest album. Dixon explains it’s more of a “personal recollection of the journey” he’s been on.
“I realized I was putting my self-worth and identity in things that didn’t matter. I started to re-organize that area of my life. And then I looked at our nation and was like, man, this is a really hot topic right now. People are searching in the wrong places for who they are and why.”
He goes on to explain that the album was purposefully divided into three section representing mind, body and spirit with the hopes of his fans and listeners taking that journey along with him and that it’s essentially about getting people to start thinking, challenging them to be the person God calls them to be, and learning to listen.
“We are busy people, no matter what you do. In this industry, it’s easy to fill your schedule. It’s important to stop and take time to listen. If not, you’re going to miss out on what God has for you.”
While Dixon, is amazed at what he says God is doing in his own life, and he’s proud of the new record, and obviously wants everyone to check it out, he says the “coolest thing” he’s experiencing right now is witnessing his wife Annie, pour her heart into a project with a close friend.
“I’ve been involved with organizations in the past and continue to support them,” Dixon says, “But Annie is currently working on something with one of her childhood friends called ‘Little Loves’. They’re building an orphanage right now in India for kids who just aren’t able, and I’m so on board.” Dixon is definitely on board, and is wears his “Little Loves” orphanage t-shirt with pride.
“It’s amazing to see her friend Felicity have this dream and this vision and see it start to take place; To see them raise money, to see the orphanage going up, to see their drive, to see their passion, to see the kids become sons and daughters.”
When it comes to his wife’s project, it is obvious Colton Dixon is “all in” but he’s quick to point out that anyone can make a difference, impact their world and make a lasting change, and he says it all starts right where you are.
“Growing up, I was always looking on the other side of the fence thinking the grass would be greener or it would be easier to make a change if I had a bigger platform. While some of those things might be true, I feel like I missed out on some of the opportunities I had right in front of me because I was constantly looking ahead. So, no matter what you want to do, it starts here and now. If you’re responsible with little, God will give you much.”
As an artist who seems to be making his own way toward making lasting change in his world, Dixon’s best advice is for all of us to take notice of the platform we’ve already been given.
“Look around you for the opportunities to make a difference, wherever you are, and that platform will grow and grow and grow. And before you know it, you won’t know what to do with it.”
Colton Dixon is steady and firm in his identity and credits much of that to his former youth pastor, Mark, his parents, his sister, and his grandfather who he describes as spiritually and mentally strong even though he is now battling Parkinson’s. He’s also been encouraged to learn that many of the Christian industry stalwarts he grew up listening to are “100% authentic” and says he appreciates who they are as people, and that witnessing Tim Tebow’s outspoken faith in the midst of criticism has encouraged him to approach his own fame in the same way.
“It was really encouraging that someone on a public platform was outspoken about his faith. While he may have taken slack for it, people were also commending him. It really just encouraged me to do the same when I was on Idol. I’ve gotten the chance to meet him a couple times, and he’s just the most down-to-earth human being who’s just still figuring it all out, just like I am.”
Colton says that in the end, having God on your side is all that matters and points to his single, “All that Matters” from Identity.
“A lot of people are searching for what matters. Colossians 3:11, says that ‘in this new life, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. If you’ve got God on your side.’ Our definition of success shouldn’t come from what car we drive, or what house we live in, or what we do for a living or what we make. It is all temporary. Truly, the only thing that matters is if you know God or not. And again, that’s another decision that everyone has the opportunity to make or not to make, but I would encourage listeners to give it a fair shake and look into it.”
Chester Goad, is a speaker, author, blogger into leadership and social change. He loves making a difference helping others make their difference. You can also check out his podcast, The Leaderbyte Podcast on iTunes, Podbean or at ChesterGoad.com.