Alexa Carter \\
Always passionate about music and dance - "I came out of the womb singing," she says with a wry smile - Carter boldly announced to her parents at 15 that she wanted to move from their Mississippi home to New York City to continue her education and hone her skills as a writer, singer and performer at the esteemed Professional Children's School. Always supportive of Alexa's artistic endeavors, her parents eventually accepted the idea, though filled with the trepidation any parent would feel about letting their child embark on such a journey.
"Those years were so important to my growth as a writer and a singer," Alexa recalls. "Looking back, it was kind of a brave and crazy thing for me to do, but I knew that it was time for me to be in an environment that would push me to hone my craft and just allow me to be creative."
Those years would prove to be invaluable to Alexa, as she found herself surrounded with creative and gifted people her own age from all walks of life. "I met so many wonderful and artistic souls from the moment I got there," she says. "They opened my eyes to so many amazing things I hadn't been exposed to. And being surrounded by so many talented people pushed me to really work on being the best singer and the best writer I could be."
With her time at Professional Children's School finished and without a definitive career path in place, Carter knew she needed to figure out how she would go about making a name for herself as a writer and performer. She put a band together started playing shows, but felt like she was limiting herself creatively. A chance encounter with acclaimed Nashville producer and music executive James Stroud while singing in a nightclub set Carter down a new path.
Stroud loved the strength and character of Carter's voice and encouraged her to move to Nashville - a town with plenty of creative outlets that still shared the Southern sensibilities of her youth.
Carter's growth since settling into Nashville has been both significant and steady. Her writing has taken on a poised voice that is both strong and vulnerable, sometimes even at the same time. "I feel, for the first time in my life," she says, "that I understand my voice and what the setting for my songs should be. It's very liberating and empowering."
That growth has led Stroud to become intimately involved in Carter's career. Not only did he make her one of a select few artists on the roster of his recently-launched R&J Records, he also recommended Carter when fellow R&J artist Aaron Lewis wanted to feature a female vocalist on a re-recorded version of his band Staind's song "Tangled Up In You" for his debut solo EP, Town Line.
"I'm sure Aaron was totally skeptical of having this newcomer singing on the song because it's such a personal song to him," Carter says self-effacingly. "But he and James have such a close relationship that he gave me a chance and I'm thrilled he liked my parts enough to keep them!"
Lewis really must have liked Carter's talents, as he invited her and her band to perform an acoustic set during his run of July 2011 solo tour dates.
Carter plans to head back on the road "as often as possible" as she finishes the writing and recording of her debut album, due out via R&J in early 2012.
"Playing live isn't new to me, but touring really is," she admits. "I loved being out with Aaron and loved connecting with his amazingly loyal audience. They had no clue who I was but by the time each set was over, I felt like I connected with more than a few of them. I'm a much better artist for the whole experience."