By Kimberly Leder
At 14, singing went from a childhood hobby to a young adult dream for sophomore journalism major Alexis Schulz.
“I became a professional musician at the age of 14,” Schulz said. “My stage name is Jamie Alexis. I needed some protection and separation between my music career and personal life.
“When you have a lot of people looking up your name on Google it can become a bit scary. Jamie is my middle name and was what my mom originally wanted to name me, so it just kind of fit.”
Classically trained in piano, Schulz admitted to being bored by the instrument by the age of 10, trading in the black and white keys for the violin upon entering middle school. It wasn’t until she was given a guitar for Christmas five years ago that she put aside one stringed instrument for another.
“I wanted to try something different so my parents got me a guitar with the intuition that I would just give it up eventually,” she said. “But I started teaching myself how to play and I became pretty good.”
But what led her to add in her voice was a simple suggestion by her father.
“One day when I was playing my dad asked me to try to sing,” Schulz admits. “At first it was hard to put the two together, but with practice I was able to get the movement of the guitar synced with my voice.
“After I took interest in voice, I took vocal lessons with a Julliard graduate, and the rest is history.”
Though she is a solo artist, Schulz sometimes has company from a few individuals during her performances.
“Occasionally, I will have harp player Guy Derosa, a political science professor at Mercer County Community College, come out and accompany me,” she added. “I also sing with Papa Carl who is another local singer/songwriter. We play a lot of charity concerts together and have this generation overlap thing going on.
“It’s really cool to have a young person and an older person play together because the audience loves it, so I tend to play with him often.”
And it’s also that generational collaboration that Schulz admits to being her favorite aspect of music.
“Music transcends language, age, race, gender, culture and so much more,” Schulz said. “That’s what I love about it so much. I can sit down with a 68- year- old man and we can write a song that might mean something different to both of us, but it brings us together anyway.
“I think that is the message that music brings across: No matter who you are music will always be part of your life and it will bring you together with unexpected people.”
When it comes to choosing songs to cover, she looks to artists with a similar sound to her own.
“I love Grace Potter and the Nocturnals,” Schulz said. “Grace’s voice is similar to mine in that I can be very soft and sensual and then turn around and do power house vocals. The only problem is that many people don’t know of her music so I don’t play it out a lot.”
Schulz usually picks covers based on where she is preforming. She tried to choose songs that may relate to the particular crowd. When the audience starts tapping their feet or mouthing words to a song she is singing, then she knows she has gotten it right, she says.
As for her own, the Hamilton native has written around 15 to 20 songs, usually starting with trying to find a cool chord progression on the guitar followed by a hummed melody and finally words, she said.
For those interested in catching Alexis live, drop by the Blend Bistro on Rt. 33 in Hamilton on the first Friday of every month from 9 p.m. to midnight. You can also watch her play at the Halo Pub, also in Hamilton, on December 27th from 7-10 p.m.
For more information:http://www.youtube.com/watch?