COLIN HUNTLEY

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"I genuinely wanted to call it quits..."

Recently voted the prestigious title as one of Kings of A&R’s “Best Emerging Artists of 2014,” Colin Huntley is positioned for success in the music industry. The 17-year-old singer/songwriter received his TV debut on ABC’s “Rising Star” and later released his music video to “Best I Never Had,” which has captured over 300,000 views so far. The SHINE grad is not afraid to admit his battle with failure, but clings to God’s plan for his life.

Have you always wanted to be a professional musician?

It started off with Guitar Hero. My dad began playing the real guitar along with me while I would play Guitar Hero. That’s when I began to learn and get fascinated with guitar. So I played guitar for a while, but realized that if I wanted to become a professional musician, playing guitar wasn’t enough…I needed to write songs. Writing music eventually led me to singing, so everything happened very naturally. The whole singing thing went along with AMTC. I started getting lessons when I realized that my voice wasn’t up to par with everyone else. None of that really started happening until I was around 11 years old.

It got to the point where I realized that music was the thing I was best at, and I enjoyed doing it more than anything else. There wasn’t really ever a moment when I decided to go for music professionally…it just kind of happened.

What inspired you to begin writing music?

John Mayer actually inspired me to write. He was (and still is) my all-time music hero. I got into his music because he’s a blues guitar player, and that’s what I started doing. Once I realized that he was a blues guitar player and songwriter, I wanted to do the same thing.

How did you hear about AMTC?

It was actually a crazy God thing. I had never really listened to the radio (laughs)… I would always listen to music on my iPod, and my iPod broke when I was 12. So I listened to the radio for like the first time ever, just to hear what was on there, and an AMTC advertisement came on. I was very moved by their vision, and loved the heart behind the organization, so I convinced my parents to let me attend an audition.

From there, did you go to SHINE?

Yes, I got a callback, went through training, and attended SHINE. The entire conference was great. I was 13-years-old, and went there under the counsel of the Dallas Hub. I received lots of experience, several callbacks, and made some lifetime relationships. It was definitely one of my favorite experiences so far in life.

I think the most amazing thing about SHINE, for me, was the people. That’s the reason I was so excited to come back as a guest star…just the energy and excitement. I remember being there and thinking, ‘These people are all just like me, and it’s incredible.’ Everyone is so like-minded, and that was probably my favorite thing about AMTC and SHINE.

What was it like to be back at SHINE as a guest star?

It was really cool to see everyone going through SHINE at the time, because I saw a lot of myself in them: I saw them feeling the same things I was feeling a few years ago. Also, it was so nice to get that experience, with the same kinds of people, but it was stress-free! (Laughs) So, I got the fun and excitement of SHINE, without the pressure and nerves. The performers and AMTC staff were great, as always. I was so thankful to have the opportunity to return.

Tell us what you’ve done since coming to SHINE as a performer?

Right after SHINE, I signed with Abrams Artist Agency in LA and Snow Entertainment…those were both connections made at SHINE. Nothing really happened with the music at that point, but my mom and I decided to pursue acting. I started high school and was not crazy about that at all, so I attended a performing arts school.

I ended up getting connected with a guy, who later became my manager, because I got a call from someone I met at AMTC three years before! So they called me out of the blue and asked what all I had been up to. I sent them some of my newer music from the previous year and ended up signing with manager, who got me on the ABC show, “Rising Star” this past Summer. It was all a really crazy experience, nothing I could have planned. So I was on a national television show, and am making my third EP now!

Your music video to Best I Never Had has really gone viral. How did that happen?

I wrote Best I Never Had a little over a year ago in Nashville, with the connection I made through my manager. We released the song with the music video in January, 2014.

Getting the song out there is really all about figuring out who you are selling your song to, and why they would want to buy it. So you look into that, then cater to those people: love on them, basically. Find a few of them and make them really excited, then they make their friends excited, and it really just begins to expand. That’s how fan bases work…you have to be really loving to a small group of people, then it just grows organically from there.

You were recently names one of Kings of A&R’s Best Emerging Artists. Tell us about that.

They found me through my manager as well. They found the Best I Never Had video and loved it. I think the EP and video was what sold them, and prompted them to put me on the list. It was incredibly exciting. I just learned about that a week ago, and was so exciting to hear. I hear the words “best and emerging,” and am just so encouraged by that.

What has been your biggest challenge as an artist?

The biggest challenge I’ve faced is dealing with failure, on a larger scale. Without going into specifics, I’ve experienced pretty drastic failures over the last two or three years, and there have been times where I genuinely wanted to just call it quits. It’s really taught me how to persevere for something I love to do.

I’ll just be real…Rising Star is a good example. Ultimately, it was a very helpful experience and did a lot for me, but was very hurtful at the time…I didn’t make it through the first round. That was one of those life-changing time periods for me. I was so down for a little while, and that rejection put me in a low, dark and sad place for a while. God really revealed to me that it was a very trying moment, but everything was part of His plan and His design. Advancing on Rising Star wasn’t supposed to happen for me. It wasn’t until I accepted that it wasn’t up to me, and it was up to God, that I was able to deal with that failure in a constructive way.

What are your upcoming plans?

My third EP will be coming out, hopefully some time this year. I’m about to record a new single for it next month, actually! So a new video, new single and new EP are all under works. A Spring tour is also something we are working on. Everything is tentative, but I’m definitely making strides and working the social media side as well.

How important is it to have your parents’ support?

For a long time, my parents actually managed me…so I had a “Momager” and a “Dadager.” Now that I have an acting manager and a music manager, my parents don’t do as much of that as they used to, but they are so incredibly supportive. They are always looking out for me, trying to do everything they possibly can. They are so proactive in doing physical things for me…they send emails, make phone calls, book certain things…just so helpful.

While pursuing the industry can be done without parents, I’ll tell you that having my mom and dad’s support has made my life, and everything I do, run infinitely smoother. The emotional side is so helpful, just knowing that my parents support me so much in what I’m doing, that they will literally be a part of it. Their support means everything to me.

Any advice for performers who may be dealing with similar things to you?

My advice is something I have come to terms with recently. You have 100 percent control over the input of what you put into what you do. Everything you do, and everything you put into it is up to you. But you have absolutely 0 control of the output. What results of your work could go your way, it could not, it could be a hybrid…you have no idea. The best advice I could give anyone is to just be at peace with that. Trust God in that. Do everything that you can do, then understand that it’s not up to you.