Jason Walker’s remarkable vocal ability surpasses the range of most male vocalists steeped in clubland. Combined with to-the-point, ear-catching compositions, it’s helped him to score a succession of dancefloor chart-toppers like “Foolish Mind Games,” "My Life,” “No More,” and “I Can’t Get You Off My Mind.” Not keen on limiting the fire to BPMs, the small-town- Karaoke-singer-turned-big-city-belter explores his acoustic leanings on his fourth album, Leave It All Behind. He talks with Justin Kantor about raves and blues, being an “out” artist, and the importance of Kristine W.
You’re from a town called Canonsburg in Pennsylvania. Where exactly is that?
It’s twenty minutes south of Pittsburgh.
What was the atmosphere like there?
It’s kind of small-town USA. There’s not really a lot to say about it. Pittsburgh’s considered to be the “big city,” and it’s twenty-one miles south of Pittsburgh.
Was there much culture or music around?
Well, Pittsburgh always seems to get things a little bit later. But there was always music around me; I managed to find it somewhere.
When did you get into music?
I started singing when I was four.
Did you go to a lot of shows growing up?
Not a lot; but I’ve always been enamored with singers and songwriters. There was always music in the house: Motown; and, my mother has an insane record collection. There was never a shortage.
Were there certain pieces from her collection that you would pull out, as a kid, that you were particularly enthralled with?
Any particular disco artists?
I liked all the old soul singers: Donna Summer, Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan. Those are the ones that I gravitated towards.
Donna Summer was the first singer that I took to, as well. My mother must have listened to her a lotwhen she was pregnant with me, because I practically came out singing Donna Summer tunes [laughs].
I can appreciate that.
You have a versatile slate of influences. A few that I’ve read about are Rachelle Ferrell, Steve Perry, Barbara Tucker, and Kristine W. I think Rachelle Ferrell’s amazing, I’ve seen her live, a few times — nothing like her.
Oh, I think that she is, hands-down, the most amazing technical singer there is. There are some opera singers that are just disgustingly insane, but that’s a whole other style, and… Rachelle Ferrell’s just… oh, don’t get me started on her! It’s insane. You sit there,and you’re kind of in awe of the whole experience.