Note: Photos by Stump Photography
By Jeff Louderback
On a crisp Saturday night in February, Alexis Gomez graced the stage at JD Legends for her first live performance in several months. It was a welcomed moment for the Centerville High School graduate who gained acclaim for her rise to the final 16 of American Idol in 2014 and is striving to ascend to new career heights with the release of her newest single, “What Is Love.”
“I’ve always said I will perform anywhere, no matter how large or small the crowd, because I’m passionate about connecting with the audience,” Alexis said. “2020 was a year of growth brought forth because of the unexpected circumstances.
“I’m accustomed to 100-plus shows a year, but with venues shut down, and tours postponed, I shifted my focus to creating new songs and reaching audiences through social media,” she added. “It feels good to get back on stage. It’s a hint of the potential for 2021.”
Long before the 27-year-old Alexis appeared on American Idol and became a professional musician in Nashville, she honed her musical talents in her family’s band, led by her father, Solomon Gomez. She still performs locally and regionally with her father, and her brother, Michael.
Standing 6-foot tall, Alexis thrived as a three-sport athlete (volleyball, basketball, and softball) at Centerville High School. Before her senior year, she decided to solely focus on music.
Alexis plays piano, guitar and even dabbles with the banjo, bass, and drums. She has written music since she was a kid, and her first known musical performance was at a music store at the mall when she was only 3. She put on headphones and belted out the lyrics to Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love it,” oblivious to how loud she was singing.
This is a year when Alexis will introduce fans to an EP of nine songs she wrote in 2020. She plans to release one song at a time over the upcoming months. They are available at www.alexisgomezmusic.com, Spotify and other sites. “What Is Love” was the first of those titles, debuting in February. The song’s official music video will be showcased at a watch party on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Cinemark Dayton South when fans in attendance received a t-shirt, poster, movie theater bucket and other keepsakes. The festivities represent the extended outreach on which Alexis has focused since the nationwide shutdowns last spring.
“My dream is to get a record deal and tour across the country and the world performing my music,” Alexis said. “Last spring, with the industry shut down and not signing new talent, that inspired me to use my time wisely and work harder at developing a plan to achieve my goals.
“The shift from touring and performing to reaching people in a new way has made be a more well-rounded artist,” she added. “I’ve done more photo shoots, revamped my branding, and performed frequently on Facebook Live and Instagram Live to expand my reach with listeners and viewers.”
A versatile singer and songwriter who appreciates performers from a variety of genres and eras, Alexis embraces the challenge of putting her own country-infused imprint on songs she covers. She has performed everything from Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and Anne Murray’s “Danny’s Song” to The Beatles’ “Let It Be” and Lynn Anderson’s “Rose Garden” during her social media shows.
“I love all kinds of music and putting my own influence on songs, including classic country hits and country versions of pop and rock,” Alexis said. “The difference between just singing a cover song and truly covering it is that an artist who truly covers it makes it her own.”
Alexis envisions the day when other rising artists apply their own take on one of her songs. “What Is Love” might just be that hit. The idea for the title originated at a wedding she attended when she heard the popular 1 Corinthians 13: 4 to 8 recited (Love is patient. Live is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud….).
“I’ve heard that verse dozens upon dozens of times, but most times it entered into one ear and out the other. This time, it struck a chord of what love should look like in a relationship, and I couldn’t get that out of my mind,” Alexis said. “I was introspective about my life. If this is what God says love is, why are my relationships not reflecting that?
“That is how a song starts. I can’t get something out of my mind, so I write it down and develop the idea,” she said. “I think “What Is Love” is relatable for many people. Since I was a little kid, I’ve listened to music that has captured emotions I was feeling, and I want to create that same experience for listeners with my music.”
Alexis recorded “What Is Love” at a studio in front of a live audience right before the shutdowns last year. She hopes that, this spring and summer, she can perform the titles from her EP on stage in front of an audience.
This spring, Alexis is spending more time at her family’s home in downtown Centerville. She is helping her mother, Angi, open Carriage House Studio, which is located in the renovated original blacksmith shop next to the family’s refurbished early 20th century farmhouse. Photographers can rent the space for their own use.
“It’s a creatively inspiring space,” Alexis said, leaning against a counter in the studio’s kitchen. “Sometimes, I come in here, sit down, pull out my guitar and work on my music. Whether I’m in Nashville or Centerville, I feel most at home when I’m writing or performing.”