Singer-songwriter Javier Colon came perilously close to giving up his dream of being a performer. After releasing two mostly unheard albums on Capitol Records in the early ’00s, getting dropped, and trying to string together gigs, he figured it might be time to put his degree in music education from the University of Hartford to more practical use.
“Literally, a year ago today I was sitting here trying to figure out how I was going to pay March and April’s bills,’’ he says, on the phone from his native Connecticut. Then the married father of two got the call to audition for the first season of the NBC singing competition “The Voice.’’ To his admitted surprise, he won.
Colon, who plays the Berklee Performance Center tonight, is beyond grateful for the new lease on life which resulted in his first post-“Voice’’ release, “Come Through for You,’’ which showcases the silky acoustic soul stylings fans fell in love with on the show.
Q. Did you think of “The Voice’’ as your last chance?
A. It absolutely was. At the beginning of 2011, I had been dropped for now five years without a label and that was not because I wasn’t trying. We sat in front of record company after record company trying to get somebody to take a chance on me. But after you’ve had two albums that came out that didn’t do so well regardless of the fact that the label didn’t promote it . . . you have a black mark on your record. I have a wife and two baby girls and I have to support my family, and it was becoming difficult to do that.
Q. After having been on a major label were you ever resentful you had to compete for another chance?
A. Never resentful. It was a little weird at first because I met some of the contestants and one of them had one of my previous albums and he was like “Man, you look just like this guy Javier.’’ So it was a little embarrassing, but I think that’s why I’m not taking this opportunity for granted; because I had an album and I had some fans, and we thought things were great then and I found myself not being able to pay my bills five years later. That’s why I’m sensitive to the idea of just laying back and saying, “Yeah, I’m going to be able to do this for the rest of my life.’’
Q. How is the experience of touring and recording different this time around? Do you appreciate it more?
A. Absolutely. I feel like I appreciated it then for sure because I wasn’t sure if I would ever get a chance to do it. It’s a different experience now because I’m starting out with more fans than I started out with then because of the TV show. It’s a great kickstart, but it doesn’t mean there’s not going to be any hard work involved.
Q. Do you feel compelled to do some of the covers you did on the show, like Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time’’ or Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel’’ in your concerts?
A. I love those covers. The great thing about the show and [mentor] Adam [Levine] was that he let me be myself. “Time After Time’’ is a song that I loved and had been doing in my shows for at least a year prior to “The Voice.’’ “Angel’’ and [Coldplay’s] “Fix You’’ were the same way. Those songs fit nicely into the set now, because they fit into the set then.
Q. You sang lead with the Derek Trucks Band for a couple of years. Have you heard from them? They must be thrilled for you.
A. I talked to Derek a few times in the last few months and he’s awesome. He’s always been supportive and wanting me to succeed.
Q. What did you splurge on with your $100,000 “Voice’’ prize?
A. The mortgage, literally. We’re just paying our bills on time finally. I really haven’t spent a big chunk of money on anything. I got the new iPhone. (Laughs.) My mindset is this thing is not over, I still have to fight for my right to party. I’m not thinking this money is going to last forever. We have to put this away and have it for a rainy day and hope that we don’t see any rainy days.
Q. Will you watch season two when it starts on Sunday?
A. Absolutely, I cannot wait because now I get to see it from everyone else’s perspective. I got to meet some of the artists that are on season two and these guys are amazing.
Q. Your daughters were big fans of Vicci Martinez. Did you ever win them over?
A. It took a while, but finally. (Laughs.) But they still love themselves some Vicci, I mean you play some Vicci around the house and they are dancing around. They were glad that I won, but they were sad for Vicci.