This Saturday, September 10 at Buchanan Park, Singer/Songwriter Alexis Cunningham will take the stage as the headliner of Lancaster MusicFest. Get to know the very talented Cunningham… and then join FLL for an exciting day of family fun, celebrating the joy of music and the best of Lancaster.
FLL: I believe you now live in Pennsylvania, but you’re originally from West Virginia, correct? What brought you to PA?
Alexis Cunningham: Yes, I grew up in WV, and during my freshman year of college, I was writing songs and posting them on my YouTube channel and someone found it and offered me a development deal in the South Jersey area (where my Grandfather happened to live). I took the deal and eventually worked my way into playing gigs in Philadelphia and fell in love with how punk rock and folk music was so popular.
How would you describe your music?
It’s always a tough question to answer because I think all my songs are different. First, I am a storyteller. The story and the emotion behind the song is really what interests me. The music as a whole is rooted in rock with a retro twist. It incorporates elements of progressive pop, psychedelic, folk, soul, funk, and indie rock. (So a little of everything because my taste is all over the place.)
Who are some of your musical inspirations?
Fleetwood Mac, Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys), The Mamas and The Papas, The Carpenters, The Cure, Amy Winehouse, George Harrison, Dolly Parton, Carole King, Roy Orbison, No Doubt, Third Eye Blind, John Mayer… to name a few.
What was it like to participate in NBC’s American Song Contest?
It was a really great experience. I was paired with a very talented team that helped bring my song to life on stage! The learning curve was steep, and I definitely feel like I learned a lot about performing and a lot about myself during my time on the show. I got the opportunity to meet many other talented artists who are also working in the same industry doing the same thing. That put things into perspective for me. It made me realize that so much is about hard work, but there is also an element of luck.
What does your songwriting process look like?
My process is different every time. Sometimes I start with the melody idea, and sometimes I start with a lyrical idea. All the good ones start with a feeling that I need to express something and get it out (whether that’s happy, mad, sad, confused, etc.). The whole reason I wanted to be a “singer” is so I could write songs, really. That was my escape as a kid. I would go into my room alone or outside in the woods and talk with my guitar. That’s really how I write songs. That’s my favorite way to write lyrics. Once I have a solid story/lyric, I usually take that to someone I trust and look up to musically and have them help me make it a lot more interesting to listen to sonically. That’s how my songs are born.
What’s next for you?
What isn’t?! [Laughs.] I’m just excited and optimistic about what life is going to bring me next. This summer I’ve gotten the chance to play multiple festivals, and more tour dates are in the works. I’ll be releasing more music, and I’m always writing new songs — so expect a steady stream of creative energy coming from my direction!
For Lancaster MusicFest tickets and event details, visit lancastermusicfest.com. Mark Pontz, senior loan consultant at loanDepot, is the Headline Sponsor of Lancaster MusicFest; To chat with Mark about your home financing needs, click here.