BY FRANK DROUZAS, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — R & B singer Alex Harris continues his St. Pete Summer Series Live on Aug. 30 at the Hideaway Café at 1756 Central Ave.
Harris, a recording artist who has topped the American Blues Network charts with his hit “Hope For Us,” has promised some cover tunes and original favorites, along with some songs yet to be released as part of the intimate concert series.
He pointed out that the series intends to promote original soul and R & B music in the area, and to help the “vibrant music culture that is on the rise here, especially among independent talent.”
Harris, as the co-founder of the Arts Conservatory for Teens, is no stranger to encouraging young talent in the area. He is also no stranger to performing, as he was singing in the family band at the age of seven–he even quipped that those close to him say he came out of the womb singing.
Hailing from small-town Manchester, Ga., the talented Harris learned to play guitar, piano and even drums.
“That was my first instrument,” he recalled. “I started on the buckets of my neighbor’s back yard, and my drum sticks were the pine tree branches of my yard!”
Harris is not only a songwriter and performer but has handled production duties as well, and is co-producing his upcoming record. His new single available now, “We Are Love + We Are One,” will also be a track on the new album.
He counts such singers as Otis Redding, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Al Green and Sam Cooke as influences.
“I admire a lot of the people that I consider to be the influences of American music culture,” Harris noted, adding that he has felt their influence in his own career “from writing as well as the energy that they brought to their performances.”
Though the greats have guided him, Harris is an artist that puts his own life experiences in his work.
“I really seek to share my upbringing in the gospel, charismatic church,” he said, “which is my father’s and mother’s church that they started in Manchester.”
He writes poignant songs about relationships between partners in love and humanity as a whole and strives in his way to help effect change for the better. Harris remembered more than a few concerts where people would approach him after a passionate performance and told him of the joy and peace they felt at his show.
Some were so genuinely touched by his uplifting and heartfelt concerts that they confided with him that after watching his performance, they “want to love again.”
“I live and perform to do that,” Harris said.
Harris has not only sung for ordinary music lovers but has performed for Presidents Obama and Bush, the Prime Minister of Ireland and the Premier of Bermuda. Does he get nervous before taking the stage to entertain such prominent politicians and dignitaries?
“No, I do not,” he said, “because one of the thoughts that I have is that we’re all people and we’re all looking to be uplifted in some way. And if I can use my gifts and talents to do that, well, I want to get you going!”
A resident of St. Pete for the last 12 years, Harris believes the city is growing “in its effort to embrace the various expressions of the arts,” and he is just happy to be a part of it.
“I’m very grateful to be an active participant in the performing arts side of it,” Harris said.
The concert is scheduled for 8 p.m. with doors opening at 6 p.m. Contact the Hideaway Café for ticket information at (727) 644-7895. After the Aug. 30 show, Harris will conclude his Summer Series at the Hideaway with one more performance on Sept. 27.
To reach Frank Drouzas, email email@example.com