SA’S COUNTRY-POP SINGER ALEXANDRA MAY SHARES HER NASHVILLE EXPERIENCES WITH LOCAL TALENT
Country-pop singer Alexandra May (22) is as comfortable performing on the stages of Nashville, where she is fast becoming part of the elite group of songwriters and a regular face on many of the stages of the capital of country music, as what she is displaying her talents around South Africa.
Then signed to the prestigious David Gresham Records, Alexandra released her debut EP called ONE in 2016, off which two singles (Amazing and Highlights) received an impressive amount of traction, even making it to #3 and #6 on popular radio station 5FM’s Top 100.
2017 saw Alexandra release her first single as an independent artist, and again Like You Do was hugely successful on a variety of radio stations, cementing her as a fan favourite and establishing her as a serious singer/songwriter.
Fast forward to today and currently this mega-talent’s Someone Else is busy making its way to dominating the airways across South Africa, which she says is “all about being true to myself and saying ‘Bye Felicia’ to all the naysayers”. Lyrics from the song speak for itself about its message: “Moving on from you, I’m taking off my shoes…I’m putting on my high heels…for someone else.”
Alexandra reveals: “Some of the biggest changes I made was moving from pop not far into the country-pop genre, as it allows me to still be adventurous, but tell a good story at the same time. Together with Crighton Goodwill from Good Noise Productions, we worked with both local and Nashville-based musicians to accomplish the sound that we wanted on the new songs. China Heart was released on Christmas Day and Swipe Rightwhere the Nashville collaborations are most notable, will be released soon.
“My other big move was leaving David Gresham Records. My time with them was extremely rewarding. But I was fresh out of school and was happy to take direction from the label. As time went on, so my style developed too and an amicable break after 2,5 years seeming the logical thing to do. These days, establishing yourself as an independent artist if you are able to do so allows you an immense amount of freedom as an artist, as technology has evolved so much that there is not much a record company can offer you if you are able to back yourself financially.”
Although Alexandra has enough material for a couple of albums, she says she decided to build them single by single, although she will release an EP during the first half of 2019.
Nashville is a huge fan of our very own Alexandra
Every three to four months sees Alexandra travel to Nashville where she uses her time to join Writers’Rounds. “I do co-writes and generally breathe in the air for inspiration. I’ve made some great friends, met really interesting people and I just love and enjoy the down-to-earth city. Nashville has given me a lot of confidence in that my music is relevant – both there and here in SA. Every time I go I soak up more of the music culture and it allows me to be more creative,” she enthuses.
Not only does Alexandra write with accomplished writers and musicians such as Stacy Widelitz, but she also plays her own set on a variety of occasions – and yes, she’s even played at the world-renowned Bluebird Café.
Alexandra says that although she has an audience here, her biggest audience is by far in the USA, particularly in the mid-South-Western region. “Nashville is the epicentre of that region for music and it made sense to start visiting as often as I could. Travelling between Nashville and SA definitely helps me to grow my tribe on both sides of the Atlantic,” she says.
Alexandra shares her Nashville knowledge with others locally
Inspired by what she experienced in Nashville, the singer/songwriter started the Alexandra May Writers’ Round earlier this year, which has become a tremendous success. “It’s an opportunity for new and established musicians to showcase their original work. Participants have an appreciative audience who journey with them through really vulnerable or happy moments. There are normally three rounds with three to four musicians singing two songs in turn. Everything your hear is acoustic and original and real! I also introduced a feature round where I have a celebrity strut their stuff. At the end of the evening there is an acoustic open mic opportunity for anyone who wants to join in,” Alexandra states with immense pride.
Getting to know the real Alexandra
Alexandra says that others describe her as effervescent while she likes to think of herself as irrepressible. “I believe that I’ve been given a gift to be used wisely. I use music to tell my stories; it’s the way I communicate. I strive to be authentic and I’m always truly blessed when someone finds some truth of their own in that,” she adds.
In her free time, she enjoys boxing, doing crochet, reading Noel Barber novels, running with the family whenever possible and going for walks with her dog (a Yorkie), Sabrina.
Other fun facts about Alexandra include that she is addicted to thrift-shopping, she loves dressing up her dog in bows that matches her own outfits, her eyes changes colour with her mood, she collects vintage teacup trios and her dream car is a Karmann Ghia.
One of the biggest obstacles Alexandra has to face is being a young female in the music industry. “I work hard at being taken seriously. I try to overcome it by being irrepressible,” she states.
Apart from listening to the likes of Taylor Swift to Shortstraw, Alexandra has also developed a healthy appetite for modern country artists such as Chris Janson, Emma Jacobs and Abby Anderson, to name but a few.
From Durban to Jozi and becoming an opera singer
Alexandra was born in Durban during April 1996, whereafter the family moved to Johannesburg when she was three (where she still currently lives). Her father owns a hygiene-related supplies company and her mom looked after and managed Alexandra and her younger sister, Isabella Jane, since they were born.
“Both my parents are musical and I was raised surrounded by church music and anything 80’s. So it wasn’t very difficult for me to fall in love with music,” she shares.
When she was 12, Alexandra’s parents took her and her sister out of conventional schooling. “This allowed us to keep on focusing on our performing arts careers without losing out on a quality education. I finished my A-levels through Cambridge and was immediately signed to David Gresham Records,” she says.
From the ages of 14 to 16, Alexandra even sang opera. She adds: “There is no substitute for hard work and correct training. I believe my classical training definitely helps to keep me in check, as well as helping with technical issues such as breathing, projection and vocal fitness.”
In conclusion, Alexandra states: “In terms of my legacy one day, it will satisfy me to know that my life, my stories and my music encouraged others to live an authentic life.”
For more of Alexandra, join the conversation on Facebook (AlexandraMayMusic), Twitter (@AlexMayMusic) and Instagram (@AlexandraMayMusic) & (@AlexandraMayWritersRound).
Alexandra’s music is available in all popular digital platforms, including iTunes and Google Play.