It was the apex of dance music as an art

“I fell in love (with dance music)
in Miami.  I was like,
this is what’s
 So I dropped out of
college and started working on
my music in Pittsburgh.  I found
people to work with...I hit the
pavement!  But there was only so
much I could do in there, so I
moved to New York 7 years ago.”

“I hadn't really opened myself up to writing
yet, so I put a demo together of just three
songs.”  Those songs included
Deborah Cox’s
legendary dance anthem “Things Just Ain't
the Same
”, and dance diva Kristine W’s
Land of the Living”.  “And I sent it to the
Showtime at the Apollo -- I said fuck it!  I’m sending it to all these other places -- I said
why not!  Well they called me.  They wanted me to sing club music at the Apollo, and I
said ‘no’.  I've seen Showtime at the Apollo -- the audience is not going to respond well
house music.  You gotta give them some soul!  I convinced them to let me sing “
” from Oleta Adams and I won!”

“I couldn't believe it -- I didn't come off expecting to win; I just wanted to make it through.”
In 2003, after several nights working the open mic circuit singing whatever struck his
fancy whether it was r&b, jazz, pop, and making New York City his home, Walker never
gave up on his desire to sing club music -- the music that resonated with him and had
left a sizable impression on him.  Eventually he drew  AUGUST | AGOSTO 2009

Jason Walker | You Can’t Stop That Voice!
By JC Alvarez

To look at Jason Walker, one can make any number of assumptions.  From his hip,
urban attire, you’d assume he’s a native East Villager, vapidly trendy and sporting a
slick-styled crewcut mohawk giving him an anarchist-like flare.  From his relaxed and
self-assured quick-witted vernacular, you’d think he just trekked himself down from
Washington Heights, passing through from brunching in the now popularized Harlem
area after rehearsing his heart out with any number of the local Baptist Church choirs.  
And then there are those blue eyes...but most of all, there’s the voice!  

Among his peers, the other assortment of rising gay pop-stars that are making their
mark on the music scene, Walker is the stand-out.  They all agree...the man has the
most amazing gift in the sound that he is able to produce.  The depth of his vocal range
is often a topic of envy.  “It’s like he swallowed a black woman,” one of his
contemporaries once commented to me.  “You have to wonder where it comes from!”  It
is after all quite impressive that from such a diminutively, unassuming frame such
vocal range and power can flow so easily.

“I don’t even know what my exact range might be,” Walker casually comments.
“It might be too limiting to know.”  And perhaps that’s true.  In a market that is still
evolving, the music industry is changing at a rapid pace and the thriving gay artists that
are emerging to dominate the pop/dance music scene are proving themselves quite
flexible -- and why would Walker want to prove any different?  Especially when his
second album excelled at making that very declaration.  
Flexible was released in 2007,
and it hinged on spectacular!  A collection of dance tracks that really showcased Walker’
s vocal ability and partnered him with some of the genre’s best talent --
Flexible is a
“near perfect” pop-album.  It was the second album Jason released under the now
absolved imprint commandeered by dance music legend Junior Vasquez, and thus
unfortunately fell victim to obscurity once that label and it’s marketing budget ran out.

To some artists, it would have been the nail in the coffin, thus signaling the end of a
much vaunted but otherwise timely career.  Destined to the legacy of perhaps forever
being known as a “one-hit-wonder”.  Fortunately, Walker had more faith in himself, and
the talent to back it up.  He picked himself up, dusted himself off and moved on...after all
he had a lot of work to do!

Jason has the distinct honor of having been the first artist released under the Junior
Vasquez Music label when it launched in 2005 with his initial offering This Is
My Life.  
That album yielded several hit dance singles for Walker including “My Life”, “
Mind Games
” and “Set It Free”.    Most of the tracks were produced by Vasquez and his
team, but what made them all standouts was the mighty and dominating vocal
arrangements that could only have been engineered by a talent like Walker’s.

Where most other pop artists come onto the scene and bank on their marketability or an
obvious gimmick that makes a blip on the music radar
                                  (see Lady GaGa) on occasion there will come an artist
                                  that is purely a gifted vocalist (see Mariah Carey) and
                                  everything else must just follow step.  That is Jason
                                  Walker.  He is clearly a vocalist first, which is what has
                                   always inspired his steps musically.
Jason’s beginnings are quite humble.  He was born and grew up in Pittsburgh, PA.  
“When I started to go out, that’s when I knew!  That was my first introduction to dance
music, but it was on my first trip to Miami that I was really knocked on my ass.  All this
time I was thinking ‘oh this is dance music’ but I realized that Pittsburgh got dance
music six or seven moths after everyone had heard it -- or we just didn't get a lot of it.”  
Which in the early 90’s was baffling!  Dance music was so generically marketed at the
time that even
MTV boasted programming like Club MTV which frequently featured
artists making mainstream hits like
C+C Music Factory and Paula Abdul.  While radio
rotated the “radio edit” of most artist’s album tracks, clubs and DJs viciously
cannibalized remixes and dub versions of top 40 hits, that often became so popular that
programmers demanded labels produce radio friendly versions of dance remixes.
“I grew up listening to soul music.  
My mother has a 45 record
collection that would be the
envy of anybody...and that’s what
I grew up listening to.”  And that’s
what he emulated; the sounds
that poured through those now
vintage vinyl records were none
other than legendary women of
soul the likes of Patti La Belle,
Chaka Khan, Aretha Franklin
“Because my voice was always
higher I always identified with
female singers.”

“I started singing when I was 4...
I did the church choir thing.”  And
he didn’t stop there.  Walker
continued singing even during his
college days.  “I was singing with
an all black group called Suede,
there were five of us -- I was always in the middle of them.”  Perhaps because all
though Jason Walker clearly sounds like his roots are in rhythm and blues, gospel and
soul, he is
white.  “No matter what type of music it was, whether it was pop, or dance, or
soul -- I just always liked the real powerhouse diva voices.”

If there is a
male diva, a voice that embodies the power and presence that is often
associated with the otherwise feminine derivative one associates with the word, Jason
could be it.  “I don’t know even know if there’s such a thing as a
male diva.”  He thinks
about that for a moment, chewing the thought over along with a morsel of his salad.  
“We tend to associate a “
diva” with someone who is bitchy...she’s fierce! Well then, yes...
there are a lot of men (I've met) who embody those qualities.”
the attention of none other than Junior Vasquez.  It was his demo of the track “My Life
which got the renowned remixer/producer/DJ’s attention.

The two began to collaborate on the album that would be not only the debut album for
Jason Walker as a vocalist, it would also be the first full album release pioneering the
way for the Junior Vasquez imprint that promised to revolutionize the dance music
scene.  “I couldn’t have imagined that I’d get to New York and would start out so big, but
the opportunity came,” and Walker took it!

It happened very quickly for Jason and Junior on that initial album.  “‘
My Life’ happened
and then ‘
Foolish Mind Games’.  After that track we decided, OK let’s make a full length
album!”  And even though many warned the music maker that Jason would be a “hard
sell”, Vasquez championed forward and it eventually lead to a second, sophomore
album.  “When I look back on it now
Flexible was really rushed.  When I moved to New
York, that’s when I started to write, but I didn’t write a lot of tracks on that record.”  The
biggest contrast between the two albums, is the certainly more commercial appeal of
the second offering, especially in the winning production on the latest single released
Can’t Stop”.

The single is a remake of the 80’s hit by After 7, but once Jason and renowned producer
Quentin Harris got there hands on it, the song was re-inspired.  Keeping the faith to it’s
distinct origin it still rocks to appeal to an entirely new audience.  “There are some great
moments on
Flexible but there were just some other things going on at the label -- I just
don’t think that album had its chance.”  Shortly after the release of Flexible Junior
Vasquez (the label) dissolved leaving Jason Walker in the precarious waters of the
independent artist.  “I got my shoes on...I pushed the music myself -- I did the best with
what I had to get the music heard.  Since then, for the most part, every appearance I've
made, every show I've booked,
I've gotten on my own.”

Cut to today, where Walker is brilliantly plotting his energy into new music and a new
sound.  Working with his current producer/collaborator Rami Ramirez the sound is
more about Walker’s voice and song writing.  “I know my audience and

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I’m not looking to alienate them, but I’m working on a more bared down, acoustic sound
for my next album.”  The two recently have been wowing audiences experimenting with
an all-new live musical set, and the result is always the same -- an audience that is
mesmerized as if by a siren’s song, captivated by Jason’s purity of voice.  It’s
remarkable to watch an audience just listen, especially an audience accustomed to the
bells and whistles of club music.  Which is only to lend to the credit to the gift of Jason’s

Today’s independent gay pop-artists have engineered a business model for
themselves that would appear shrewdly mastered by the most experienced label rep.  
But these courageous pioneers made short work of a new medium    
 that is only now                                                                        dawning on the
entirety of the music                                                                         industry and when there wasn't
a specific                                                                         platform for their
music, gay artists                                                                         delved into the
power of the internet                                                                         to get their music
heard and proliferate.                                                                        “Fortunately there’s
a lot of camaraderie                                                                          among gay artist,
and I’m confident I                                                                           can go to anyone
of them if I needed                                                                           anything and they
can can to me.”  

In an industry that has often controlled the image of its artist and worked to keep the gay
artist in the closet, Jason Walker and his peers are proving that there is an audience
our there ready to hear their songs; a fan base loyal to the gay artist and not solely
impressed by their open approach to their sexual orientation, but truly enraptured by the
quality of music and talent on the scene today.  Talent as unique and as impressive as
Jason Walker.  “At the end of the day -- I’m just a singer and my music is for everybody.”
Jason Walker’s albums
This Is My Life
and Flexible are currently
available through various
downloadable media including
iTunes and

CLICK HERE for more JC Alvarez

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