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Season One winner of NBC’s ‘The Voice,’ Javier Colon, performs next Friday evening at Berkshire Communuity College in a benefit concert for BCC Foundation’s Annual Fund.
Friday December 21, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- In early 2011 music wasn’t cutting it for Javier Colon.

It had been five years since the 2006 release of his second solo album on Capital Records, "Left of Center," and the married father of two said it was becoming difficult to survive financially.

But later that year, his management told him a new reality television show called "The Voice" was holding auditions and he decided to go for it.

"Had I not gotten through that audition I probably wouldn’t be singing right now," said a matter of fact Colon.

But Colon did more than get by in that initial performance televised on NBC. Judges swooned.

"It was perfect," said "The Voice" celebrity judge Cee Lo Green following Colon’s audition. "It was so perfect, but it was also so tasteful too," added judge and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine.

The 34-year-old Colon who is typically characterized as an R&B artist, went on to become season one champion in part by putting his own mark on songs popularized by the female pop/rock powerhouse performers Cindy Lauper and Stevie Nicks.

Winning the show earned him $100,000 and a record contract with Universal Republic Records, under which he released his current album "Come Through for You."

"It is a complete 180 from where I was before," said Colon, speaking by phone during a break between sound check and that evening’s performance at the Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center in El Paso Texas. "It has given me a second shot at a career and I am very blessed it worked out the way that it did."

Colon has had a steady touring schedule in the United States and abroad since his victory, including opening for Maroon 5 thanks to a connection he forged with Levine on the show.

A Dec. 28 gig will find Colon in Pittsfield sharing the stage with city native Matt Cusson at Berkshire Community College’s Boland Theatre.

Proceeds from the concert will benefit BCC Foundation’s Annual Fund.

Colon and Cusson were introduced through a mutual friend about 10 years ago. The two initially forged a bond around their mutual respect and admiration for artist James Taylor and have since gone on to perform together a number of times.

They are scheduled to perform separately as well as together.

Asked about the upcoming performance Cusson, who played earlier this month to a sold-out crowd at The Garage, said "It’s always a fun show though no matter if we’re with a band or not. So I’m looking forward to it. There is nothing like playing in your hometown."

Colon said there is likely to be a lot of banter, and some seriously good music, when he and Cusson get together.

"When it is just he and I on stage it is hilarious. We are absolutely cracking jokes, being silly. But I know he has my back and I know the musicianship that he has," said Colon. "It is amazing to have him as a friend and a fellow musician on stage."

Although most often described as an R&B artist, Colon explained that he doesn’t like to categorize his work. The Hartt School of Music graduate, who sings, writes, and plays guitar and piano, prefers to show his range -- evidenced by his performances of female rock tunes on "The Voice."

"I like to do a lot of different styles of music, opera, broadway, R&B, pop, folk blues. It’s a matter of honing in on what I want to do, not misrepresenting myself as only an R&B artist," said Colon.

Perhaps this has also made it difficult for the music industry to brand Colon, who is no longer with a major record label. Colon said there were no hard feelings between he and representatives at either of the labels he has previously worked with. The working arrangements simply weren’t the right fit for him.

"There is a place for what I do on contemporary radio. But there is definitely still a bit of luck involved," he said. "I am going to make the music my heart wants to make."

Carrie Saldo can be reached via her website, www.carriesaldo.com