By Wendy Burton
Phoenix Staff Writer
Muskogee’s Swon Brothers are familiar faces to millions of Americans after making it into the top three contestants on NBC’s “The Voice.”
They’ve been named official “Okies from Muskogee” by Mayor Bob Coburn and have received the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame Rising Star Award.
Zach and Colton Swon, who will compete for the top prize in tonight’s episode of the show, said they are grateful to the many fans they’ve gained at home and across the country.
“America has changed our lives. The amount of support has blown us away. Thank you Oklahoma and thank ya Lord!” wrote the Swon Brothers in an email.
Viewers have seen their funny side, their serious side, their affectionate side, their faithful side, even their sad side on the “The Voice.”
Their parents, Tammy and Kelly Swon, said what America sees on television is the real deal when it comes to their sons.
Zach is the funny one, as America knows by watching him do crazy things such as imitating “Sesame Street’s” Elmo and wearing Spandex and crazy wigs like Shakira on “The Voice.”
“That’s Zach,” Tammy Swon said, laughing as she remembered the piece on last week’s results show. “He’ll do anything for laughs.”
But growing up he was a little shy compared with Colton, their parents said.
“He can be a little bit more reserved. He’s kind of like his dad until you get to know him,” Tammy said. “Then, he’s just goofy.”
Colton, she said, is the more outgoing brother.
“After a show Colton is the one kissing babies and shaking hands,” Tammy said. “Zach’s a people person too, but Colton loves hugging people and getting out there in the crowd.”
Tammy said the boys have a lot in common too, in the most important ways.
“They both have compassionate hearts and are very passionate about their faith, family and friends,” she said. “And they make me laugh. That’s a big thing. What you see on television is what you get.”
Meet Colton Swon
EDUCATION: Hilldale High School graduate.
FAMILY: Parents, Kelly and Tammy Swon; brother, Zach.
HOBBIES: Golf, watching football, church.
Meet Zach Swon
EDUCATION: Oktaha High School graduate and some college at Northeastern State University.
FAMILY: Parents, Kelly and Tammy Swon; brother, Colton.
Zach and Colton Swon’s father, Kelly, said that what America hasn’t got to see yet are his sons’ songwriting abilities.
“There’s people that have said they were ahead of their time even when they were only 12 and 15 years old and going to Nashville to write songs with professional songwriters,” he said. “And they’ve written a lot of good songs. Of course, I like ‘Better Man’ because it was written about me, dedicated to me. But they’ve written a lot of songs.”
Some of the Swon Brothers’ original songs, which can be found on iTunes and YouTube, are: “Oklahoma Lovin’,” “Southern Belle” and “Get Down Kind of Thing.” Zach and Colton each sing lead on various songs. Some are upbeat, some are ballads, and some are more rock than country. But all are original.
Kelly said song writing is a talent someone simply has, and both Zach and Colton have it. And they haven’t had formal lessons on song writing.
“They have gone to Nashville and written with people, sat down with people that have had No. 1 songs,” he said. “But as far as going to a class or school, they haven’t done that. They can hear and see the music and see it on paper. It’s the magic of the pen. It’s very powerful.”
sports and people
Colton Swon loves sports, music, God and people, his mother, Tammy Swon, said.
“He’s very personable. He’s always the one that croons for the girls, and he’s very funny too. But it’s a dry sense of humor.”
He’s also physically fit and loves to run and work out at the gym, she said.
Colton showed how fit he is at the June 6 homecoming concert at the Muskogee Civic Center.
He jumped off stage during “Okie from Muskogee,” ran to the back of the Civic Center and leaped over the back wall to grab audience members to invite on stage to sing.
“Colton likes to shake hands and kiss the ladies or hug the babies. And he loves to perform. Loves it,” his father, Kelly Swon, said.
“And he has a compassionate heart,” Tammy said. “They both do.”
In middle school, Colton sang a song called “Billy Boy” to his sixth-grade class as part of an anti-bullying campaign. He and Zach had written the song two years before. He also took a 16-year-old girl on a date because she was terminally ill and it was an item on her “bucket list.” Colton also leads praise and worship events at area church camps, Tammy said.
Zach was born
Zach Swon has always loved anything artistic, his mother, Tammy Swon, said.
“He would always put on shows for us when he was little. He wanted us to sit down and watch him dress up and imitate a character he saw on TV or play a song,” Tammy said.
Zach’s father, Kelly Swon, said Zach had a knack for playing drums, then other instruments, like a professional from a young age.
“When Zach was 14, he played drums at a show for David Frizzell (“You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma”). And he said Zach was a 40-year-old man in a 14-year-old body for the style and experience he had,” Kelly said.
Zach started playing drums for his parents’ gospel group, Exodus, when he was 7 or 8, his father said.
“There were times we would have to let him sleep on the bus right up until it was time for us to go on,” Kelly said. “He was tiny and he’d be so tired, playing like a kid all day, then playing drums for an hour or so. Drumming is hard work.”
Though Zach was a natural at drumming, he did go on to learn other instruments, his father said.
“I think he wanted to play the melody instruments just so he can improve his song writing and get out from behind the drums,” Kelly said. “He’s sort of ADD, and he wants a challenge to play anything.”
HOW DID YOU BECOME AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?
Zach was born at Muskogee Regional Medical Center on Feb. 21, 1985, and Colton was born there Aug. 17, 1988.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?
Colton: “The people.”
Zach: “Definitely the people.”
WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING IN MUSKOGEE?
Zach and Colton: “Play music professionally.”
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
Colton: “Watch football, play golf or go to church — love being at church.”
Zach: “I mostly write songs.”
WHAT OKIE OR OKIES FROM MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE?
Zach: “Ronald Boren — a friend to everyone and super humble.”
Colton: “My mother and father, of course!”
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?
Colton: “Giving my heart to the Lord.”
Zach: “Receiving the Rising Star Award at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.”
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE? (IN ABOUT 25 WORDS OR SO)
Colton and Zach: “It’s a perfect size town that keeps growing by the day, with friendly faces and just all around great people! We love that there are still mom and pop-type businesses! Muskogee is an amazing place to be from! Prayer driven city! Love it!”