Alexander played soccer at Texas Wesleyan until an ACL injury closed the door on his athletic career. His window to music opened when his ex-girlfriend dropped off a guitar for him to pass the time. Like many self-taught guitarists, he developed a style all his own, taking elements of blues, soul, and folk and phasing them through the lens of hip-hop and modern R&B. He cites a high school bus trip hearing Kanye West’s Late Registration as his first musical influence and being struck by the blend of old R&B and new sounds. “And then when I started playing guitar,” he says, “and seeing YouTube videos of Gary Clark Jr. playing blues in such a fresh way…I became a student.”
“Between cultures, races, and musical styles, I want my life to be a bridge.”
A chance meeting with Leon Bridges’ producers led to him singing harmonies on Bridges’ soul banger “Coming Home,” which led to a tight friendship between the two. Since then, Alexander has released his EP, has a debut LP on the way, and has collected rock-and-roll passport stamps performing and recording at legendary spots like Red Rocks, the Ryman Auditorium, and Abbey Road Studios. All while looking, and this is being objective here, incredibly stylish. But like with most things about Alexander, there’s much more to his style below the surface.
“As a way to bypass racism and prejudice, my parents always dressed us very well from a young age,” he says. “So that was always on my mind, that I was sharp and presentable.” Like in his music, his looks combine vintage and contemporary elements…and he’s always on the lookout for a statement piece. “One of the best ways I can do that is with a hat. And when I think about the history and culture of hats for African-Americans and what that meant for Black people trying to present themselves…for them wearing a hat was heavy. Really heavy. And I know there were people in front of me who opened the door, and I want to honor that,” he says, “and open the door for the person behind me.”
Still relatively new in his career, Alexander is still amazed to see fans connect to his music, but he knows it’s exactly what he wants to be doing. “Between cultures, races, and musical styles, I want my life to be a bridge,” he says.