By Wayne Jebian
When he speaks, he sounds like a man who grew up in Stratford, and when he sings, he sounds like a phenomenal R&B vocalist … who grew up in Stratford. But ask Javier Colon about his family background and his accent rises up like the morning sun.
“I grew up speaking both Spanish and English,” recalls the West Hartford resident, born in Fairfield County to a Dominican father and Puerto Rican mother. “Now my English is better than my Spanish because I speak it more. We would speak Spanish at home and English when we went out. We had to speak English to survive in our surroundings.”
Colon says that his family background was the driving force behind his musical career. “My father was in the radio business for basically all of his life, and he used to work at a radio station in Hartford where he was a DJ,” he said. “My father moved from there to owning his own station, a smaller station in Bridgeport called Radio Cumbre, 1450 AM, which is still there today. He’s still there, too, at 78 years old, working as he always has.” His father is Pablo DeJesus Colon, who many Latinos may remember as one of the state’s first Latino radio stars in the earliest days of Spanish language radio in the Hartford area.
Because of his father’s vocation, Spanish language music was the air that young Javier breathed. “It was the constant background music of my childhood. While my father was at the station, my mother would listen to him all day at home, where she ran a day care center.”
Colon remembers that the music did not turn off when his father’s show ended. “When he would come home, he would want to listen to what was going on at the station when he wasn’t there,” said Colon. “So it was constant, 24 hours of all Spanish music. The first songs I ever sang were in Spanish.”
On YouTube videos of his Spanish language performances, he often starts out with a flawless Andalusian Flamenco introduction that he learned from guitarist Antonio Rayo, better known as Rayito. Javier spoke about Raito’s performance on his first album for Capitol Records. “In 2003, he came to the studio and he absolutely killed it,” said Colon, who has been playing guitar from the age of seven. “The song was ‘She Spoke to Me’, and the sound was so amazing, that I decided I had to learn it.”
He has drawn huge applause in places like Mexico City when he sings in Spanish, and songs like “She Spoke to Me” have an audible dose of Latin seasoning. However, in the U.S. he is mostly known as the breakout performer who sang “Time After Time” to Christina Aguilara on “The Voice,” a talent contest for vocalists on NBC.
His approach, his image, and has audience may shift after he finds some time to get back into the studio. “I’m going to try to one up myself now and do a Spanish album, a complete album in Spanish,” he said. “I’ll start with a single, hopefully, within the next few months and try to release something. From there, I’ll finish up an album and try to get that out.”
(Javier Colon performing in Spanish at the University of Alaska in Anchorage in 2009 before he won “The Voice.”)
By Wayne Jebian