etroit musician Alex Way doesn’t know a life without music. Growing up, she was surrounded by it — her father playing trombone, her mother, aunts and grandmother constantly singing around her, and Way, herself, being a classically-trained violinist. But it wasn’t until her freshman year of college until really she found her voice.
“I didn’t know I could actually sing,” Way tells BLAC, until one day when she was riding in the car with her mother and brothers, singing along to an India.Arie song.
“There was this one part where [India.Arie] did a run with her voice, and so I did it. I thought it was no biggie. I was just mocking what she was doing,” Way says. “And my mom stopped the car, my brother’s both stopped, and I’m like ‘what just happened?’ And they were like, ‘that was really good.’
“In church, whether you can sing or not, people will encourage you to sing. I just assumed it was one of those things out of love, rather than that I could actually sing,” Way adds. “But then when I got to my freshman year in college, some guy just told me he loved my voice and he booked me for a show, and that’s when I realized ‘oh my god, I can actually do this.’”
From there, Way grew into a singer-songwriter powerhouse, attending open mics, releasing music and performing across the city.
“Right now it’s so rich,” Way says about her hometown. “There’s so much artistry and music within the city, it’s kind of insane. There’s so many different styles and flares of music out there. That’s part of why I love living here, because there’s so much art and so much culture. I never get bored.”
Way’s goal for her career is to just be successful as a musician, “whether that means selling out millions of albums or that I just sell enough to keep me afloat,” which, either way, is a difficult path.
“I think it’s hard for artists to get support, period,” Way says. “Not because people aren’t responsive all the time, it’s just part of the career. A lot of it is convincing people to come to your shows, to buy your music. Like, say I was a company that provided heating and cooling for houses. People get cold, people get hot, there’s always going to be a want for fixing the heat or the cooling in your house. But with music, people think, not purposefully, ‘I don’t really need music,’ so it’s kind of harder to convince people to spend their money on it.”
After months of recording, editing and planning with producer Darell “Red” Campbell, Jr., Way’s new EP Phases is releasing on November 25, which she describes as R&B/Neo-Soul with small elements of hip hop.
The Phases EP release party is on November 25 at 8 p.m. at the Carr Center, and will include performances by Way and other local artists whom she worked with on the EP, in addition to a DJ spinning throughout the night. Admission is $10, and CDs will be available for $5.
“It has been a lot of work organizing and putting everything together and making sure things go smoothly on the night of,” Way says. “It’s all about to pay off, so I’m just really, really excited.”