In an otherwise lackluster summer of music, one bright spot has been Jason Walker, whose cover of Taylor Dayne’s “Tell it to My Heart” is strikingly similar to the original, while injecting a lot of emotion to give it his own fresh take.
His first album, This Is My Life, produced three consecutive number-one Billboard hits, confirming he’s one of only a handful of male artists capable of breaking through to a global dance audience. I spoke to Jason about his influences and his rise to the top.
It’s been quite a year for you with big performances, including NYC Pride. What have been some of the highlights so far?
Yes it certainly has been a good year – thus far!
I would have to say that playing in Tampa at G Bar was a major highlight. It was my first time and the whole experience was a great one: the crowd, the club owners and promoters and the DJs Bruce Devery and Gustavo Scorpio – really good times.
The other would have to be being reunited with the man who made it all happen for me: Junior Vasquez. I performed at his Pride Event here in NYC and it was a real return to form for him! He really brought it home! It was really emotional for me to see him back in action again, turning it like only he can. When I performed, the crowd was sensational! So much love. It was really off the charts!
2005 was your breakout year when you made it to the top of the Billboard charts. Take us back to that time, and how your life changed.
I will never forget those first couple of years. Not to sound cheesy, but it really was a whirlwind. I was playing all over the country (with and without Junior), and I was consistently on the charts. It was crazy.
The first time I went to number one was such a surreal experience. I remember exactly where I was when I got the call. It’s one of those moments that you dream about. And it does change you – for the better though, I think. It makes you always strive for perfection, or at least near perfection. [Laughs]
What have you been up to since then?
This question makes me feel like I’ve been in a cave! I’ve been performing, recording and making records – same as always.
I just had my seventh Top 10 record about a month ago; a remake of Taylor Dayne’s “Tell It to My Heart” that I did with Bimbo Jones. Last year, I cracked the Top 5 with “Beat Don’t Stop,” a track that I did with C-Rod, and I had two other Top 20 records.
I’ve also recorded two full-length albums, Flexible and Leave It All Behind, and one live album, The 6th Ave Sessions, so it’s been a busy eight years! [Laughs]
You’re known as “the little white boy with the big diva voice.” When did people first start taking notice of your talent and your style?
I grew up in Pittsburgh and started singing when I was about four years old. My parents noticed that it was something that I loved and I think that they knew it wasn’t just a hobby, because I could imitate almost anyone that I heard on the radio.
It wasn’t until I was in the seventh grade that I started to write music, and then it took on a life of its own. I started competing and performing in groups. After high school I fell head first into house music after a trip to Miami – that’s really when everything changed for me.
I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I had been raised on disco and dance so it felt like a natural progression. That’s when Kristine W came to me.
You’ve said that Kristine W changed your life with her debut album Land of the Living. What was your life like at that time, and how did her music influence you?
No other artist’s work has had the profound effect on me like Kristine’s did. Land of the Living was truly ground a breaking recording.
During that time in my life, it was as if I were a chessboard and someone picked me and tossed me into the air. I was everywhere – scattered. I didn’t know how to come out. I couldn’t figure out exactly how to achieve my dreams and ambitions. I was kind of a mess.
Her music helped me focus. It inspired me to want to be better. I had been listening to soul music my entire life. Ladies like Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, and Rachelle Ferrell shaped me, but Kristine W taught me how to sing.
Check out Jason Walker’s rendition of “Tell It to My Heart” below: