Alexis Hightower, singer, writer, multi-instrumentalist and actress, brings a soulful vibe to jazzy R&B and makes music you want to listen to again and again. Described by Ebony.com in 2013 as “mesmerizing,” Alexis’ chic sound is a sophisticated mix of classic jazz touched with the hip-hop and classic soul she was grew up on. With influences ranging from Abbey Lincoln and Aaliyah to Alanis Morrisette and Roberta Flack, Alexis creates an elegant new sound grounded in jazz and Rhythm and Blues, while mixing in all of the places she has ever known and loved.
Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Alexis grew up in California to parents who encouraged her imagination and wanted her to see the world. “My parents, my aunts and uncles too, were like Black hippies back in the day, “ says Alexis. “They were stylish and progressive and there was always art around. And music-soul music was a constant.” Starting on the piano at the age of six, Alexis appeared professionally on stage as early as age ten, when she was featured in an appearance with The Fifth Dimension, and made her first trip to NYC at age twelve to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. That first trip to NYC would set the course of her artistic life.
Alexis made the long-anticipated move to New York City during the heyday of hip hop, spoken word and neo-Soul in the 1990’s. “I wanted to sharpen my skills against the music scene in New York City,” she explains “I knew that I had to come to New York to develop my sound.” Living in Brooklyn and then Harlem, Alexis’ search for her sound found her sitting in with, or hiring as sidemen, emerging talents like Roy Hargrove and Kareem Riggins, Miriam Sullivan and Eric Lewis. Her experimental side was unleashed in the Brooklyn poetry scene where she appeared in collaborations with Saul Williams, Tamar Kali and Mums, among others, and later had the chance to appear as an opening act for the legendary Gil Scott Heron. “I’m lucky to have been in New York at such an important time,” comments Alexis who has headlined at coveted NYC venues including Joe’s Pub, S.O.B’s, The Public Theater, BAM Café, The Shomburg, Nuyorican Poet’s café and Ginny’s Supper Club. “There was such a range of talent and community and free-thinking. We jammed together, we taught and encouraged each other, and some people became very famous.”
Alexis made her European festival debut in Spain in 2001 where she appeared on every stage of the San Sebastian festival and opened for Bobby McFerrin on the closing night. That same year she released a self-produced EP, “Lucy’s Blues,” featuring six original songs. Alexis later toured Spain and traveled to Tokyo as a dancer, returning to Europe in 2003 where she played festivals and private concerts with her band. In 2007, Alexis enhanced her repertoire as a storyteller, appearing in a U.S Broadway tour of Rent, the musical. Alexis continued to perform in the world of musical theater for several years, traveling to more than thirty states and even playing drums, organ, piano and guitar in the NYC workshop production of an original show.
In 2010, Alexis began to gather the songs and tracks that will become her first full-length album, “Girl Next Door.” “I wrote these songs over a long period of time,” Alexis explains, “so I am able to carve out the sound that I want.” Featuring performances by Duane Eubanks (trumpet), David Bowie guitar-man Gerry Leonard, along with Alexis on piano, drum programming and keyboard parts, Girl Next Door is an ensemble-driven, ten-track journey through the life and times of a young artist. “This is the sum of all my parts,” Alexis states, “it’s all the music I am right now.” With tracks that create a sweet, sophisticated groove, “Girl Next Door” is a smart, expressive engine of jazz-infused soul. “Dance a little, cry some, then press repeat,” states Alexis.
Look for, “Girl Next Door,” the album on iTunes, December, 2014.
“Lucy’s Blues” is available on iTunes. Download the EP for 7.99. Bonus video included!!
Buy Lucy’s Blues on iTunes now.