One of the more enduring images from Colton Dixon's stint on the 11th season of "American Idol" was his farewell performance after being voted out of the televised singing competition. While performing "Everything" by Lifehouse - with the remaining contestants, judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler and the studio and television audience looking on - Dixon kneeled down in the middle of the stage, raised his arms up and closed his eyes in praise and prayer.
"It was crazy," said the 21-year-old singer and pianist from Murfreesboro, Tenn. "I [originally] sang that song during one of the shows. I was going to do "This is Your Life" by Switchfoot if I got voted off, but they asked us to choose a song we'd already sang.
"As I was voted off, I was able to clear my head and have a one-on-one with God and thank him. He's the first person I run to in times of trouble, like being voted off of 'American Idol.' It was a cool worship moment for me to connect with him, and the icing on the cake is it was in front of 20 million people."
Colton Dixon opens for Third Day at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown.
Dixon, who placed seventh that season, is currently on his first tour as a solo artist, opening for Third Day. The tour, with fellow opener Josh Wilson, will stage a show at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena in Johnstown. Tickets cost $33.10 and $85.70.
The singer recently released his first album, "A Messenger," and has found some radio success with songs such as "You Are," but after his "Idol" turn, he wasn't sure which musical path to follow.
"I grew up listening to Christian music. I absolutely love it, but I didn't want to make a decision based on what I wanted to do," Dixon said. "God's plan was bigger and better. I wanted God to take hold of those writing sessions. I explored my options in the studio. I wrote what came natural, and it was obvious it was supposed to be Christian music. I'm glad it came out that way.
If you go
What: Third Day, with Colton Dixon and Josh Wilson
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cambria County War Memorial Arena, Johnstown
Tickets: $33.10 and $85.70
"If he wanted me to be in mainstream music, so be it, but it was Christian music, and I'm happy to do so."
Dixon originally had auditioned for the 10th season of "American Idol," but did not qualify as a finalist. During auditions for the 11th season, he accompanied his sister, Schyler, to support her as she tried out. The "Idol" judges talked Dixon into again auditioning, and both he and his sister qualified.
However, after another round of auditioning, Dixon was named as a finalist, while his sister was eliminated, which for him, produced some mixed emotions.
"It sucked; I'm just going to be frank with you," Dixon said, "but Schyler is mature beyond her years. I wanted her to do better than I did. It was unfortunate that her journey was over from that standpoint, but she's actually out on tour with us, and she sings a song with me during the show. It's cool to have her on the bus, chilling with us."
Dixon is completely enjoying the tour experience, especially being paired with Third Day.
"Those guys are so great," he said. "They're hilarious. It's phenomenal to be on the road with them. For my first full tour as a solo artist, I couldn't have a better band to be with. They set a great example for us. They are great dudes who love the Lord, and they are there for my and my band members."
Tom Grenell, the general manager of the Cambria County War Memorial Arena, expects a big, diverse crowd for the concert.
"I definitely think [Dixon] is likely to bring in the 'American Idol' fan that hasn't tried Christian radio or Christian music yet," Grenell said. "He is going to reach a broader spectrum. To have an 'American Idol' participant in our arena is a real blessing, one you don't find every day."
Grenell expects Third Day and Dixon to be "incredible," and he sees increasing potential in Christian concerts at the War Memorial.
"We've found, going back five or six shows, that honestly, success is breeding success," he said. "This [region] seems to be a great market for Christian music fans. It's been overwhelmingly successful."
After the concert ends, Dixon wants to see the fans leave with some encouragement.
"I want them to have a weight lifted off them," he said. "I want them to see a light in a dark place, and I want to encourage whoever came out that night. We'll have a time to worship, a time to rock out and a time to just get crazy at the end.
"We just get wild and crazy for Jesus. We have a lot of fun."
Mirror staff writer Cory Dobrowolsky can be reached at 946-7428.