Anchors have a very simple function. They keep something or someone in place.
But not all anchors are created equally. Dating back to the Bronze Age, some anchors were made of baskets of stones or logs filled with lead. They were heavy and did the job but not practical to retrieve and use again. Soon enough, “teeth” were added to a lighter anchor to secure via a direct connection with something else on the water bed. It could then be pulled up and used again.
People have anchors too—some more effective than others. Jobs, homes, relationships, friends, finances…we tend to tie ourselves to any number of things to find security.
Colton Dixon knows a lot about anchors. More specifically, he knows a lot about effective ones. Through the discipline of study and time with God, he has an firm grip on the one true anchor. It’s only fitting, therefore, that his latest album revolves around that which holds him steady.
“I had the original idea for a song called ‘Anchor’ and threw it on my notes,” he says. “I didn’t revisit it until later, but at that point there was a bigger picture that this wouldn’t be just a song but the theme of the record. We all get caught up in life and schedules, and we lose sight of what’s important. He’s the thing I’m always going to keep running back to. That idea spawned into different songs about times in life that are crazy when we just need something stable to hold onto.”
If anyone knows a thing or two about crazy times, Colton would be the one. Following his top-13 run on American Idol in 2012, Colton made the rounds on talk shows from Leno to Live with Kelly and even attended the White House Correspondents Dinner. His debut album, A Messenger, was released in 2013, followed by a slew of tour runs with the likes of Third Day, Josh Wilson and TobyMac, among others.
“Everyone I’ve been out with has been such a blast,” he shares. “Every artist has their things they like to do. Third Day loves barbecue, so they scout out different barbecue places wherever they are. TobyMac is into corn-hole. I had so much fun throwing bags around with him.”
The fun continued into 2014 as Colton joined the Winter Jam lineup.
“Winter Jam was always the one big show I got to go to every year,” Colton says. “To be a part of it and on the other side of it was such a cool, God-thing for me.”
The “God-thing” he mentions isn’t a throwaway phrase for Colton. As much as touring with such stellar artists has challenged and enabled him to grow professionally, the rigor of the road illuminated, more clearly than ever, his personal need to daily connect with his anchor.
“After my first tour, I realized how easy it is to fall into a schedule and get carried away with it and not really have time for the important things,” he shares. “It’s easy to lose sight of what matters and harder to make time for things that are important. While I was touring, I realized it was super important to have your quiet time and Bible study time. For me, even if I’m still in bed, I’ll read a study or Scripture. It’s a great way to start your day.
That way you’ll never miss it, and it helps you wake up.”
As Colton reveals his day-to-day pragmatic approach to truly relying on God, it becomes easier to understand where his strength of character and bold faith begin. Because he has tethered himself to the unmovable, even in the harshest of spotlights, he is secure.
“I’ve always known the kind of music I wanted to make,” says Colton. “Following a mainstream show like Idol, I didn’t exactly know which path God was leading me along. But I prayed for guidance; and with the success of songs like, ‘You Are’ and ‘Never Gone,’ it was pretty clear that Christian music was it. Regardless of a genre lable—Christian or secular—I wouldn’t necessarily put any music out that was different.”
Indeed, his first album post-Idol, A Messenger, solidified Colton’s viability and future in the Christian music industry. His second will set it in stone.
“I would consider the first record as a launching pad,” says Colton. “On this one we went to the extreme. There are a couple songs that have some big, epic-sounding tribal drums; and the ballads are superstripped- down. David Garcia [producer] understands that so much more than I do. We weren’t limited on the first record, but we wanted to make these songs ‘anything goes.’
“You always hear about the sophomore album and how scary it is,” he continues. ”You never really understand it completely until you’re in that position. It’s a big moment. The first record you have your entire life to write. The second record, you have about a year. But there’s not one throwaway song on this record. I am 100 percent in love with these songs and hope people will feel the same.”
Secure, confident…anchored. Colton’s words reflect the life and heart of one who knows who and what to cling to in the mundane and the extreme. As he continues to walk the path God laid out for him at the age of 13, when his piano teacher put a microphone beside the piano and made him sing, chances are his personal walk and faith will only grow stronger, thereby enhancing his music, his words and mission.
As his current single, “More of You,” suggests, Colton’s eyes and heart are fixed exactly where they should be.
“I got the idea for this song while on Winter Jam, and the best way to describe it is the youth pastor analogy,” he says. “There are two cups of water. One is God; one is you. Your water represents the things you can’t let go of, anything you put before God. God wants to fill us up with the full potential of His love and power, but we have to make room for Him. We have to empty our cup daily. Now, my prayer every day is, ‘God, I want to experience more of You today than I did yesterday.’”
From Idol to touring to simply being a young man in his 20s, Colton has had and continues to have ample opportunity to cut corners, water down his convictions or indulge in the things of this world. Instead, he has chosen to live out the life his anchor intended.
Not all anchors are created equally. Only one is ultimately unfailing, with the hope, grace and love we need to hold onto. That anchor is the only Savior, the only true hope for us all. Colton has tied his heart to that anchor—and always and forever, that anchor holds.