Music News & Reviews

Winter Jam Christian music fest arrives at Tacoma Dome Saturday

A few years ago, Colton Dixon was sharing the stage with “American Idol” contestants. On Saturday, he’s going to share it with fellow Christian music acts.

Winter Jam, the largest Christian show on the road, comes to the Tacoma Dome on Saturday, led by headliners Hillsong United. Dixon is opening the show.

Dixon, 23, has turned his seventh-place finish on “Idol’s” 11th season into a successful career as a Christian pop rock artist. (Phillip Phillips went on to win that 2012 season of “Idol.”)

Dixon’s debut, “A Messenger,” became the top-selling album of 2013 by a new Christian artist, and the No. 22 best-selling album in all genres. He released his sophomore album, “Anchor,” in August.

“I could talk for hours about what Christian music is or what it’s not,” Dixon said by phone from Henderson, Kentucky, where he was preparing for a show. “It can be a single song or it can be an artist who talks about their faith through their music.”

While on “Idol,” Dixon said his Christian faith wasn’t readily evident, but “if they followed me on Twitter or Facebook, it was pretty obvious. I’d like to think I was pretty outspoken but at the same time I wasn’t preachy. I was just trying to be me.”

After “Idol,” Dixon was wooed by a couple of mainstream labels. If he had signed, it would most likely would have meant abandoning his Christian career. “I’m sure that would have been one of the contingencies,” he said.

“I had to have a conversation with God. Am I on this mainstream television show to go mainstream, or am I to pull some mainstream music fans over to Christian music?”

Dixon, a Tennessee native, decided to stay with what he knew. “I grew up with Christian music, and it’s something I love, and it’s where my heart was.”

He still lives in Franklin, Tennessee, near Nashville. “Music has been in my backyard since I was born.”

The message Dixon tries to impart in his music is one of hope. “I’m going to be reaching out to them based on hope — what it means to them.”

Piano, Dixon’s longtime preferred instrument, figures heavily into his music, which he calls “piano-driven pop rock.” Winter Jam will be his second group tour.

For his new album “Anchor,” Dixon worked with songwriters and singers Trevor McNevan, Matthew West, Ben Glover, Matt Bronleewe and TobyMac.

The TobyMac collaboration resulted in “Our Time is Now.” Dixon calls it “an anthem for my generation. We had a lot of fun writing and recording that one.”