I am changing
I’m not who I used to be
And I’m not afraid to fight
For what I feel is right
— “I Am Changing” Jason Walker
Jason Walker began singing at the age of four. At first he mimicked the vocals of the iconic divas whose music filled his mother’s rather extensive and eclectic collection of 45s, but by the time he got to high school and began singing in the school choir he had learned to flex his burgeoning vocal prowess on even the strictest of Catholic hymns.
“I sang in the choir for years and the teacher … took an interest in me,” Jason recalled during a recent interview. “I actually took voice for a few weeks but it didn’t last because the voice instructor I went to wanted me to sing opera and I didn’t want to. I remember taking a Patti Labelle song to her … I believe it was “On My Own” … and saying, ‘This is what I want to sing.’ But she was not having it!” He says with a chuckle. “Needless to say I got back from the class and told my mom I didn’t want to go [to voice lessons] anymore and she said I didn’t have to go.”
Jason Walker may not have gone back to that voice class, but he never stopped singing. Instead he evolved his sound over the years and developed the stealth vocals with which his name has become synonymous all on his own.
Like the club-ready title track from his latest album, Leave It All Behind, the lyrics to “I Am Changing,” the opening salvo from Jason Walker’s third musical collection, are strangely prophetic about how the Pittsburgh native with the slight build and mega diva voice feels about his career and music at the moment.
Since his debut in 2004, under the tutelage of legendary DJ Junior Vasquez, Walker has scored two number one Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play singles and racked up another three Top 10 hits from his first musical entry, This Is My Life, alone. He’s also recorded a sophomore album entitled Flexible which, despite failing to catch fire like his previous effort, still managed to yield the supremely dancilicious lead single “I Can’t Get You Off My Mind.” Now the singer, whose piercing range and penchant for soul-stirring vocal acrobatics rivals that of his idols Patti Labelle, Aretha Franklin and Chaka Khan, is back with his latest project, which may well be his most intimate and personal recording to date.
The soulful, stratospheric signature trills that first earned Walker favor among the notably critical audiences of the television show It’s Showtime At The Apollo and helped to define his previous two albums are without question present and accounted for on his new release. However, this time around, rather than couching his vocals exclusively in hard-driving dance beats, Walker veers into new territory with more ballads, a few acoustic tracks and even a little smooth Latin jazz. The result is an album that unequivocally demonstrates that Jason Walker is anything but a one-trick pony. In fact, if anything, it reveals that he is what other recording artists describe as a ‘singer’s singer.’
“This is what I wanted to do next,” Walker says of his new album. “I wanted to do something where the songs and the voice would speak for themselves. I don’t feel like I can just do one thing. There’s too much music inside me to just say ‘Oh I’m only going to do this.’ And that may be my downfall, but I can’t help it.”
That said, don’t think that Jason has turned his back on dance music altogether.
“I’ll always do club music … I love it too much,” Jason reassures. “But this is where I want to go now. It’s time for something a little different and I feel that I can appeal to everyone. It doesn’t just have to be one style or one type of music for one audience. I feel like I would be doing myself a disservice if I said I was only going to do club music.”
Asked if he worries about how his new music will be received by increasingly fickle music buyers, Walker responds with the same categorical defiance that, at the start of his career, gave him the courage to get up in front of primarily African-American audiences from Pittsburgh to New York City and sing his face off until they were cheering in the aisles.
“I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do,” Jason responds flatly. “Maybe this new album is more adult contemporary or maybe it’s more singer/songwriter oriented, which is fine with me. I mean I wasn’t trying to target Justin Bieber’s audience. This record is for anyone who likes good music.”
As for the future, Jason says he’s happy with his latest release and that he achieved what he set out to do with it. “As far as being happy with the total package, yes I am,” he says. “[Now] I’d just like to see it reach as many people as possible and I’m willing to do the work, I just think I have to have some prayers answered.”
God, are you listening?
Jason Walker’s new album Leave It All Behind is available for download at iTunes. For more on Jason Walker, visit JasonWalker.com.