Xavier Joseph’s Unique Path To Country Music
360°Sound has recently featured a number of talented up-and-coming Texas country artists, including The Powell Brothers, Savanna Chestnut and Lindsey Lane. All have their own unique sound and story. However, it’s hard to imagine a more unlikely background than that of Xavier Joseph. For years, Joseph was a professional dancer. And not a Texas two-step dancer (although he excels at that as well), but a four-time champion tap dancer.
Joseph, 28, moved to New York City from Texas in his early 20s to pursue dance professionally, landing some roles in off-Broadway productions. However, he realized that as a dancer he would probably always be in the background. That didn’t appeal to him. He wanted to be in the limelight.
He got into acting and singing and even studied opera, adding to his unorthodox background. But it was his first concert experience, Brad Paisley at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, that inspired him to become a country singer. He picked up a guitar at age 24 and began practicing furiously to make up for lost time.
“I literally woke up one day and had some sort of epiphany that I needed to do this instead,” said Joseph, who lives with his wife in Spring, a suburb of Houston. “This felt right. This felt like more of a natural part of who I always was once I started listening to and loving country music.”
Over the last few years, Joseph has released four singles and is currently in the process of recording his debut album in Nashville, which he plans to release in February 2021. His latest single, “Tomorrow’s Another Night,” has been climbing the Texas country charts.
360°: All of your singles have charted regionally. What do you think it is about your songs that have connected with Texans?
Xavier Joseph: For my first two singles, “Long Overdue” and “Gotta Be Bad,” I had a great radio promoter, Roger Ramsey. He did a great job getting me out there. It was a good response for both songs. It was the song “Never Been to Texas,” Tony Ramey originally wrote that song, that really connected with everybody. Then people went back and listened to the other songs that I had recorded. We know how beautiful [Texas] is and how it feels to be a Texan. That song really got me a lot of shows. It helped me start a whole band. Even right now, it’s still getting 90 spins a day on Spotify without any type of promotion.
The song I just released, “Tomorrow’s Another Night,” is a little more sentimental. It’s specific to me but a lot of people can relate, when you have a new love and you’re not sure how it’s going to go and being in the early stages of a new relationship. I started gearing my music more toward connecting with the audience as opposed to just making fun honky-tonk, dancing songs, which were my first two songs.
You have a triple threat background with singing, dancing and acting. Tell us about your experience as a four-time dance champion.
I lived in New York City for many years and trained under some of the best tap dancers in existence. That was my thing. I’ve actually been a dancer much much longer than I’ve been a country music singer. I started when I was about 10 years old and stopped my professional career at about 23. I toured all over the place doing different shows and TV appearances. I did some off-Broadway.
It wasn’t until somebody told me, ‘We work so hard, but we just have to accept that we’re always in the background and will never be the guy who is front and center.’ I was like, ‘Wait, I put in a lot of work here. I want to be the front and center person at some point. I don’t always want to be a backup dancer.’ That’s when I started doing singing.
I first started off at the Austin Lyric Opera, so I was trained in opera for about two-and-a-half years until I started taking on musical theater. Throughout that time, I started doing acting lessons. I’m signed with Pastorini-Bosby, one of the biggest talent agencies in Texas. I won awards in country-western swing, but that was with a group, it wasn’t me solo. I think country-western swing is probably my favorite [dance] style; it’s just so much fun.
That’s my convoluted way of getting to country music. I kind of just hopped, skipped and jumped, and it wasn’t until I was in the country-western swing world that I really fell in love with country music. I hadn’t really listened to country music much growing up even being from Texas, because my mother was from Boston and my father was from Mexico City.
I’m also a fitness and physique competitor so I have to stay in a certain type of shape. I don’t get to kick back with a cold one like most of the other country guys do [laughs]. It’s very, very different background.
Do you do songwriting?
I didn’t write the first few singles. I had a hand in “Tomorrow’s Another Night.” I’ve never considered myself a full-blown songwriter where I can sit down and pop out a song in an hour. I’ve been working very closely with some of my new stuff that’s coming out, being a part of it, and learning and getting faster. I can create a great theme, a great idea. I can create some good lines. But putting it all together and putting those little nuances in it and making it special and commercial, I’m in the learning process.
My performing is my ace in the hole. I love to be on stage and perform for people. They can’t sit in their seats when I’m performing because they want to dance along. That’s where my strength lies. If I had to write all my songs from the get-go, it would have been a little bit longer before we actually released a single. The goal was to go as quickly as we could while producing the absolute best quality music that we could.
I’m proud of the singles that we’ve put out, and I can’t wait for the stuff I actually write to come out and let everybody see what my sound is when I have my hands in it. This new album is a little bit of a newer sound. Like I said, it is in Nashville. But it’s a mix of Nashville, Texas and me. It’s a really beautiful sound that I cannot wait to share with everybody.