Paul Colman is a Grammy Nominated singer/songwriter/entertainer. He has performed all over the world, written hit singles, garnered numerous awards and has sold hundreds of thousands of records. Paul still travels the globe singing and speaking and sharing his songs, thoughts and faith. He has released 15 recordings featuring his songs and for the three years (2005-8) was the guitarist for Aussie rockers, The Newsboys. Jan 2009 saw him release HISTORY: a collection of his best songs. Aside from HISTORY, you can purchase all of Paul's music (solo and Trio) on itunes.
Early years (1978-1985)
Paul began writing his own music at the age of 11 and by the time he was 18 he had written over 100 songs and performed them hundreds of times.
Paul's father, Robert Colman, was a much-celebrated singer/actor who had spent over a decade in London, England (where Paul was born) as the lead in many a musical. He was, and still is, the youngest person to ever win the Sun Aria Award in Australia and released close to 30 of his own recordings. (www.robertcolman.com) Music was always in the Colman house and Paul would spend many an evening in the audience watching his father perform. In 1973 Robert left the secular artistic world and became a minster at a church in Melbourne, Australia. He also, for a period of time, was recognized as Australia's leading gospel entertainer. This title galvanized by two sell-out nights at the Sydney Opera House and captured on a live double album.
Early musical influences for Paul were Elvis, Larry Norman, Steve Taylor, Andre Crouch, Randall Waller, Avion, Kansas, The Angels, AC/DC, U2 and Midnight Oil. It was Larry Norman however that really captured Paul's imagination. The Colman family saw Larry perform live many times in the 70's and 80's in Melbourne, Australia. Paul recalls, "I remember seeing this guy up there on stage at Dallas Brooks Hall in the heart of Melbourne on his own with an acoustic guitar, a microphone, a razor sharp wit and songs that really went deep into me. Somewhere inside my heart and mind I said 'I want to do that! It was actually about 18 years later that I stood in that exact spot and sang my own songs to a packed house."
Paul performed a lot during these years at events connected with his father's church. This connection with music and faith would become the backbone of all of Paul's future musical endeavors. He played drums, bass, piano, flute and guitar from week to week in the church band as well as performing at youth group camps, coffee shops, church concerts and outreach events.
Paul's first band, 'Childish Behavior', played mostly at youth gatherings, roller-skating parks, high school parties and community events. Paul was the band's primary songwriter as well as the lead singer/bass player. One of the bands guitarist and Paul's main co-writer David Thomas (Davage) went on to form 2 of Melbourne's influential Indy outfits: Nursery Crimes and Pre-Shrunk. Childish Behavior disbanded in Dec 1985 after a series of shows at a local Roller-Skating/Music venue headlined by none other than metal pioneers Motorhead. Paul's living memories of these shows remain to be some black and white pictures, a scrappy desk tape and Lemmy's beat-up leather jacket that was left behind in the trashed dressing room. The jacket became a staple gig outfit for Paul for a number of years, but Childish Behavior was over and Paul headed to the USA to live for a year in Washington D.C and Billings, Montana where he worked on his performing and songwriting and began his love affair with America.
Just prior to flying to the USA Paul won a competition at a local coffee house called The Green Lantern. The Lantern was a very popular hangout for musicians and particularly singer/songwriters. This was a small venue that seated only about 60 people and the competition that Paul won first prize for was for about 50 performers of all ages. The 1st prize was 10 hours in a recording studio. Paul recorded two of his own songs "Its' too late" and an unnamed composition. The songs were not hits and the recording went nowhere but it gave Paul his first taste of a professional recording studio.
Development and performing with Larry Norman (1986-1992)
Paul returned from the USA at the end of 1986 and threw himself into academic pursuits. While studying though he did manage in the period to chalk up hundreds of performances. Paul played a lot of coffee shops, churches and church functions, pubs and clubs and youth groups. When he wasn't performing and studying,hespent a lot of time recording his music in his small home studio. The songs he wrote in the period became the staple of his live shows. They were also the songs Paul played with the Paul Colman Band when in June 1987 Paul was asked to open for Larry Norman on his 6th Australian tour. As you can imagine this was a dream gig for Paul who had idolized Larry growing up. Larry was very complimentary and asked Paul and band to not only play a 30 min set before Larry but to actually be his backing band. Paul remembers, "It was definitely an honor to play with my musical hero. I remember when he popped in to our rehearsal and sang along to SOUL ON FIRE. It was a real thrill. I had met him when I was 15 when my Dad arranged for him to come to dinner but to actually perform with him was truly awesome. The only disappointment was that I rehearsed LONELY BY MYSELF on piano for months and it was going to be just me and him up there but we never played it."
In 1989 Paul auditioned and was accepted into an intensive one-year tertiary bridging music course. It was in this year that he achieved 5th grade music theory, greatly developed his aural music skills and engaged in a rigorous study of the history of music. Paul's major was voice and his minor was classical piano. He achieved 5th grade AMEB for singing and 3rd grade AMEB for piano. He also made a lot of great friends and enjoyed years of collaborations with the musicians he met. Whether it was weddings, corporate functions, original performances or pub rock bands, the next 3 years of his performances usually included musicians such as Craig Harris and Ashley Smith. Paul was accepted into music at the University of Melbourne in 1990. He auditioned as a singer and did a year of composition, music theory, vocal and piano but at the start of his second year at University but he changed his focus instead to History/English/Literature/Philosophy. "I just don't love music in the same way as a lot of my friends. My true interest in life is people. I can get to people in a unique way through music but I am just as passionate using spoken word". Paul went on to graduate from the University of Melbourne with a bachelor of Education and spent 2 years teaching at one of Australia's largest and most prestigious private schools.
The Lo-Fi's (1991-94)
It wasn't until 1994 that Paul first went back into the studio to record his music. His first project that became a released recording was with fellow singer/songwriter/guitarist Michael Mancev under the band name The Lo-Fi's. The resulting 10-song album, now out of print, included 5 of Michael's songs and 5 of Paul's and was called "Violets and Violence" after one of Michael's wonderfully moody songs. The record was recorded and produced by David Carr, a fellow Melbourne based musician and featured the rhythm section of a local rock band, Bodymotors. Paul played at a number of venues in Melbourne at the time alongside Bodymotors and actually filled in a number of times for the band on guitar, bass and lead vocals. Erik Chess (drums) and Mel Lewis (bass) played on most of the album with David Carr performing some bass, guitars and keyboards/programming.
Paul and Michael performed together as an acoustic duo for most of this period. They performed songs from "Violet and Violence" as well as a host of cover songs. The song that usually got the most response was their version of the classic Dire Straits hit 'Sultans of Swing' that featured Michael's vocal and guitar. Paul and Michael also put together a covers rock band during this period that played Rolling Stones, Lenny Kravitz, U2 and The Doors as well as 'Sultans'.
The Lo-Fi's only performed a handful of times as a band and whatever aspirations Paul and Michael had as becoming the next long-standing timeless rock duo soon evaporated and they went their separate ways. Michael went on to record a very rootsy and heartfelt solo record in the years to come under the name Vex entitled 'end of days'. He was to Paul a very influential and positive musical influence, "Michael Mancev was a great mate and he was my most influential guitar teacher. Michael had a great sense for good songwriting and he and I performed for a few years as an acoustic duo as we dreamed of musical purity and mega-stardom".
The wedding and bar singer, teacher and 'the band thing' (1994-98)
During these years Paul worked consistently in bars, clubs, cafes and restaurants singing his own songs and a large repertoire of cover songs. He also song at hundreds of wedding and wedding receptions. "Playing at weddings and clubs taught me a lot about interacting with an audience. At a wedding,music ,or my performance, was not the focus. The focus was the bride and groom. It taught me to put people first and use music to serve them. I actually loved being a wedding singer."
For 2 years, Paul taught English, Literature, History and Religion at a private school in Melbourne. This was one of the schools Paul had visited during the compulsory student teaching component of his Bachelor of Education. After not being able to get Paul on the telephone, the headmaster of the school actually knocked on Paul's front door in an attempt to find him and offer him the job. On the weekends Paul would still perform all around town and he was in a season of serious songwriting that would result in his first fully-fledged solo recording, 'the band thing' was recorded between 1996-1997 and was Paul's first solo album. It was an eclectic recording that really showed a myriad of influences. The album was recorded and produced by David Carr at Rangemaster Studios in Melbourne. Paul once again used Erik Chess on drums and himself or David Carr played most of the other instruments. Phil Gaudion, who later went on to be the drummer of the Paul Colman Trio, performed two of the drum tracks. 'the band thing' sold a modest 5,000 copies and at the album launch at The Royal Derby hotel about 20 of Paul's students from school tried to get in but due to their age had to settle for listening outside the venue. The pub was packed with fans and friends and the night was a huge success.
A few of the songs that didn't make the band thing's final list were included on a bonus EP sold with the first 1000 copies of the record. This EP was later separated and sold as the "Life is Where you Are'" EP and is now discontinued.
One voice – One guitar (1998 - present)
After 'the band thing', Paul went searching for a sound that was truly his. After some life-changing advice from record executive John Durr of Black Market Music/Records, Paul went right back to basics and started with just his voice and guitar. He was still writing constantly and performing now full time after leaving teaching at the end of 1997. The songs from 'one voice – one guitar' literally came out of these live shows and Paul writing songs that he could sing a alongside the covers he was performing. The songs on this record are so strong that Paul still performs a number of them as a regular part of his live set. Some of the were also re-recorded with the Paul Colman Trio and one of his most popular songs from the album, 'Run', went on to sit at number 1 on the US Gospel charts for 11 weeks and help earn a Dove award and a Grammy nomination.
The 'one voice – one guitar' idea and title became Paul's very own brand that defined this particular style of performance. Its success was in its limitations. "When you are alone on stage with just a microphone and a guitar, the limitations are really the freedom. It forces you to find things in your performance that you don't need in a band as you have nobody but the audience to rely on for interaction." Paul certainly began to sharpen his 'audience interaction' skills during this period of his career. Actually he became know for it. Most Paul Colman fans would agree that Paul's skills with an audience are the main reason he is different from other performers.
Paul traveled through Australasia and the US extensively from May 1998 to Dec 2000 performing in the one voice-one guitar format. As the Paul Colman Trio grew in popularity, Paul was still in demand as a solo performer. He did 11 solo tours of the US during this period and as part of his travels in the America would visit Nashville, TN where he began to develop relationships with writers, producers, musicians, managers and record company executives in the gospel music industry. Paul became close friends with Peter Furler, the co-founder and creative force behind the newsboys, and this relationship would become a pivotal one for Paul both personally and professionally. Paul did two "one voice-one guitar' national Australian and New Zealand tours as well during this period. He performed at Australia's Parliament House for government and international leaders 4 times as well as a host of conferences, corporate and private events. He was a regular performer at clubs/bars/restaurants at the beach in the summer and at snow resorts in winter. He headlined many church events and became one of the first performers in Australia to sing/speak at all denominations and expressions of faith. All of this momentum was to be the fuel behind the explosion of the Paul Colman Trio.
The Paul Colman Trio (1998-2004)
Paul embarked on a 51 date solo tour of the USA and the Philippines in Sept 1998. He decided to take friend and drummer/producer Phil Gaudion with him. Phil simply brought a shaker a set of brushes and a snare drum There was little time for rehearsal "we can rehearse as we perform" Paul suggested. Phil became an expert and accompanying Paul on vocals and percussion and the tour was a roaring success. They played all across America at churches, colleges, high schools, coffee houses and bars (including the famous Bitter End on Bleaker Street in New York). The tour finished with 17 shows in 10 days in Manila, Philippines on the way home. Paul commented, "Phil and I were great together both as friends and performers. He became amazing at fitting into and adding to what I did. We developed so many little quirky, funny, entertaining moments and I think the whole experience taught me a lot about collaboration and really helped Phil come out of his shell a lot too."
When Paul and Phil returned back to Australia they called on long time friend Grant Norsworthy to join them on bass. To preserve the essence of the sound that they had created, the idea came up to use acoustic bass rather than electric. Whereas a lot of band broke down to an acoustic lineup for a handful of songs, the Trio decided to make this 'their' sound. In Australia, the current music trend was still the sound of grunge. It was all about walls of guitars, gravelly angst- ridden vocals and an almost anti-performance stage 'cred'. When the Paul Colman Trio stepped onto the scene therefore in early Dec 1998 they were a fresh sound. They also had a swell of momentum from Paul's solo work, a definite on stage chemistry and Paul was supported by two thoroughly professional, passionate and skillful musicians who each brought a lot to the table. Norsworthy was a very versatile bass player with a strong voice and a great sense of humor. Gaudion was a brilliant drummer with a wonderfully unaffected coy stage personality. Grant and Phil jumped on many of the classic Colman interactions and added to them. The Trio was a super interactive, professional and yet 'fly by the seat of your pants' performance experience. Their debut recording, the aptly titled 'Serious Fun', was a landmark recording in the Australia Gospel industry. It contained wonderful songs and the performance was fresh and exciting.
The trio toured heavily in Australia and New Zealand between 1999-2001. They followed 'Serious Fun' with the more electric and serious 'Turn' and two live albums. These albums 'electric' and 'acoustic' reflected the two now distinct styles the Trio expressed. Due to the demand of playing to large crowds and in large arenas, Paul, Grant and Phil performed also electrically and acoustically. The electric performances were mostly enhanced with the use of an additional guitarist and often a keyboard player. The band almost exclusively featured Adam Lester on electric guitar and Derek Bailey on keyboards. The Trio's friend and expert sound technician, David Jacques, was also instrumental in the bands live sound.
In 2001 The Paul Colman Trio toured the USA for the first time as Paul used his contacts from solo efforts to keep the band busy for a 6 week tour that climaxed with a weekend in San Hose, CA with the band opening for P.O.D and Third Day. The band showcased for various record labels on a two day visit to Nashville but nothing came directly from these performances.
A support slot with Third Day on their national Australia Tour proved to be a turning point for the band as Third Day, after being impressed with the Trio, invited them to open for the 'Come Together' tour of the US in 2002. The Trio happily accepted their invitation and spent 2001 preparing to move to the USA indefinitely. Paul flew to Nashville in August of 2001 and secured the band a record deal with Essential Records (then home of Third Day and Jars of Clay) and the services of renowned producer Monroe Jones (U2, Chris Rice, Third Day)
In October 2001, just week after the September 11 terrorist strikes against the US, the Trio flew to Nashville to commence work on their first international and record label release. In 6 weeks and at The Bennett House in downtown Franklin, TN the Trio recorded 'new map of the world' to critical acclaim. The following February the band and wives and children flew back the USA and began the year-long tour with Third Day, which eventually took in over 100 cities.
The masses took notice; propelling pc3's singles 'Turn' and 'Run' to No. 1 and 'Fill my Cup to Top 5, turning out in droves for its tour appearances with label mates Third Day and FFH. The music industry responded as well, with Radio & Records magazine naming the band to its annual Top 10 Breakthrough Artists, the Recording Academy bestowing a Grammy nomination for best Pop/Contemporary Album, and Gospel Music Association honoring Paul Colman Trio as New Artist of the Year at the 2003 Dove Awards.
Just 9 months after receiving the Dove Award, the Paul Colman Trio disbanded after triumphal tours of the US, Europe and a national sell out tour of Australia (Feb 2004). The band cited pressures of traveling on families and finances as the reasons for splitting but on their website left the door open for a possible future reunion. It had been a wonderful 5 years with so many amazing memories, great music and performances. Fans were understanding but disappointed as the Trio had won the audiences and music industry personnel all over the world. Grant stayed in the USA and joined 'sonicflood' as their new bassist and Phil traveled back to Australia to engineer and produce records. Paul stayed in Nashville, left Essential Records and signed as a solo artist with inpop Records (EMI). He began touring the US and Europe as a solo artist and began recording his fourth international solo record.
Let it Go (2004-2006)
Paul began writing for his solo record in the spring of 2004. He retreated to a snowed-in cabin in the middle of a California's Yosemite National Park in January and sat and wrote, read and prayed on his own for 5 days with no telephone or TV. The first song written for the album was 'Sweet River'. It depicts a struggle in the supernatural realm and a cry out for the Almighty to release and rescue from the evil voices of accusation and fear. All the songs that made the final list are a deep expression of faith and reflect a very profound soul searching season. "When I took stock of everything I had been doing, I looked at all the doors I'd been through and couldn't determine which ones I'd broken down and which ones had been opened. I just didn't know," Paul shared. "I felt like that still quiet voice in my heart was saying, 'Let it go. Be who you truly are. Stop being driven, controlling and fearful. I discovered I needed to slow down and listen for that voice instead of just my own," he says. Colman drew into his family and his Creator, and there he found the inspiration for Let It Go.
Paul's song craft on the record was sharpened through a rich collaborative process with other songwriters including producer Cash, Randall Waller (Shania Twain), Newsboy's front man Peter Furler, Reuben Morgan (Hillsong) and Jason Ingram (Rebecca St. James, Point of Grace, Salvador, Building 429, Joy Williams and Bebo Norman).
Gloria (all God's children) was the first single and it went top 30 in the USA. In Australia the single spent a record 3 months at number and won 'song of the year' for being the most played song of 2005 on Australian Christian radio.
Let if Go's second single 'the one thing' stayed in the US top 20 for nearly a year and won Paul a songwriters awards from ASCAP as well as one for the achievement of over 20,000 plays/spins on US radio. The song really connected with people and has become one of Paul's most requested.
The albums' third single. 'Holding onto you', also received a great reception at radio and has been used heavily in churches for corporate worship. Paul wrote the song in his hotel room in Copenhagen, Denmark on a European Tour. "I was alone and desperate for some changes in my heart. At that moment I realized two major things. One, I felt I had never really completely trusted God with my life and two He was completely worth trusting. 'Holding onto you' is special to me as it really documents that moment for me. Ed Cash made me sing it at the top of my range too, which I think added to its sense of urgency.
'Let it Go' was produced by Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, Matt Wertz, Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman,Bebo Norman and Bethany Dillon) and Vince Emmett (Rebecca St. James, Phil Keaggy, Ginny Owens).
Paul toured the record heavily throughout the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand in 2005 and many of the songs from 'Let it Go' are still in his current live set list. At one stage he had bands in Australia, the US, Germany and the Czech Republic that he used to tour. Towards the end of the though, after nearly a decade of touring a recording his own music, Paul was seeking a change of scenery in terms of his musical career. "I felt like somehow I had come to end of something. I really needed some space from my own music for a while. This seemed kind of crazy to some people and especially some of my fans. On one had I felt I was writing and performing better than ever but deeper I felt I had to take a step back and face some personal stuff that in the end is way more important. A gift is one thing but even issues of character are more important. What I cold not figure out was how I was going to somehow stay in music and yet take a break from me. It sounds corny but I just prayed and trusted God." In November and quite out of the blue Paul got a call from long time mate and collaborator Peter Furler asking him to join the newsboys as their new guitarist.
The Newsboys (Nov 05-Dec 08)
Paul accepted the invitation to join the Newsboys and promptly began learning the set list and programming sounds for a tour that started Jan 13 of 2006. For the moment, Paul shelved his own music and threw himself headlong into the band.
In 2006 the newsboys toured the USA as well as Australia, Canada, Africa, Finland, Russia, Norway, Denmark, Singapore and China among others. Paul reflects, "It was a wonderful year. I fully embraced my new role as guitarist and backing singer in the band. I bought some awesome guitars, built a great guitar rig and hardly played the acoustic all year! More importantly though, I got a chance to step back from me for a while and serve something I did not start, own or control! I also learnt a very different musical skill set. The guys were awesome and the whole newsboys experience was wonderful: Great songs, great shows and great people."
The Newsboys recorded their 14th studio album and Paul's first with the band during 2006. Paul played guitar on the record and sang backing vocals but more importantly contributed to the songwriting. The most important collaboration was on the band's hit single 'Something Beautiful' that Paul co-wrote with Peter Furler. The song became the bands biggest hit for a number of years and recently became the 2nd most downloaded newsboys song. 2007/8 saw the GO album and tour of the same name propelling the band once again to sell-out crowds and huge record sales. The GO tour visited 85 cities across the USA and in the fall of 2008 the Newsboys released GO LIVE: a CD and DVD documentation of the tour. Paul performed 284 shows in 17 different countries with the band and departed in Dec 2008 on excellent terms.
New solo album (2009)
During 2007, Paul spent some time in the studio recording. For the first time in his career he took a break from recording his own music and recorded some of his favorite 'faith inspired' cover tunes. Three of these songs can be purchased on HISTORY released Jan 27. This album is a Paul Colman 'best of' collection and currently available in stores, on order via the web or at Paul's live shows. IF I WAS JESUS is a digital only EP released as well on Jan 27 on itunes and features five of the cover songs Paul recorded including the three on HISTORY.
So why record a bunch of cover songs? Paul tell us that, "halfway through 2007 I felt good about beginning to record another solo record. It had taken quite a long time because I have only been able to being the studio about 4 days a month. I started making a very intense singer/songwriter album and had lots of very cool new songs. After a month or so though it just didn't feel like the right time to make this kind of record. So I changed directions and began recording songs from other artists. It actually was very freeing to do so! I focused my creative efforts on singing/playing and arranging. These are 10 truly great songs. I can say that because I didn't write any of them J"
The second digital EP with the other five songs will be released sometime later this year.
Countries where you may have seen Paul Colman perform:
U.S.A (48 of the 50 states)