On debut album, Abraham Alexander finds solace in vulnerability : NPR

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On his debut album, Sea/Sons, Abraham Alexander displays on his upbringing because the son of Nigerian immigrants in Greece and the household’s eventual journey to settle within the U.S.



MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Let’s spend a while attending to know singer-songwriter Abraham Alexander. He is simply launched his debut album, titled “Sea/Sons.”

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “EYE CAN SEE”)

ABRAHAM ALEXANDER: (Singing) Mama stated I’ll at all times be (ph) – religion is powerful, however my love is weak.

BLOCK: Abraham Alexander was born in Greece, the son of Nigerian immigrants. The household moved to Texas when he was 11, and that is the place he stayed. Alexander by no means deliberate on a profession in music. A random encounter with musician Leon Bridges set him on that path. Now he is on tour across the nation and headed to play Bonnaroo and the Newport Folks Pageant this summer time.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “EYE CAN SEE”)

ALEXANDER: (Singing) As my eyes can see, ooh, as my eyes can see.

BLOCK: On the duvet of his album, we see a photograph of Alexander as a younger boy wading knee-deep within the sea along with his brother and associates. It is a image he just lately rediscovered.

ALEXANDER: That photograph introduced a lot emotion for me. That’s the final time that we’re in Greece. I bear in mind my mother telling us that, hey; you wanted to get out of the water. However we had been so misplaced within the vastness of the ocean, and we had been so misplaced within the vastness of childhood, you understand, in the easiest way. And that was what was coming again to me after I noticed the photograph once more. And my thought was, gosh, I want I might return to that point.

(SOUNDBITE OF ABRAHAM ALEXANDER SONG, “BELLA DAWN”)

BLOCK: And that was a turning level, proper? That was proper earlier than your loved ones got here to the States.

ALEXANDER: That was proper earlier than. That was the final time. Yeah. I feel a number of weeks later, like, we had been on a aircraft to come back to the States.

BLOCK: What was the set off for that? Why did your loved ones determine to go away Greece?

ALEXANDER: You understand, they’re – they needed higher for his or her youngsters. We had been poor. I imply, like, poor is even a form phrase for that. We completely had nothing. And there was a variety of racial rigidity that was occurring in Greece as properly. And simply to get sure jobs, you understand, was troublesome. In order that they utilized for a lottery visa. We obtained accepted by the States, they usually thought Texas was the very best place to lift a household.

(SOUNDBITE OF ABRAHAM ALEXANDER SONG, “KNEE DEEP”)

BLOCK: You might have a track that I feel is clearly spinning off of that picture referred to as “Knee Deep.”

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “KNEE DEEP”)

ALEXANDER: (Singing) Knee deep within the unknown – 10 years previous, however he is nonetheless grown. Ft chilly – nonetheless daring. He advised me so. I do know.

Yeah. That track is type of a nod to my mother due to that day she advised us that we would have liked to get out of the water, and I might see her crying. And now, wanting again in hindsight, I see that she was speaking to herself. And she or he was crying as a result of she wanted to get out of the water and go knee deep within the unknown and to embrace the potential for going to a brand new nation, striving for a greater life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “KNEE DEEP”)

ALEXANDER: (Singing) Nicely, she stated, hurry up. Hurry up. Dry them off. Dry them off. We have locations to go. We have locations to go.

BLOCK: You understand, I feel we hear your mom’s presence by means of a variety of these songs. After you got here to the U.S. with your loved ones, fairly quickly after you moved, your mother was killed in a automotive accident.

ALEXANDER: Yeah, she was killed by a drunk driver going the alternative approach of the freeway. And I’d say that is the primary time as a child that I’ve felt just like the world did me unsuitable. You understand, and the previous couple of years, I have been making an attempt to grasp why. And in a approach, penning this report was cathartic in that I might specific these emotions once more. And my mom was and is my rock, and he or she’s nonetheless an inspiration to me. And so after I shut my eyes to write down a track, like, I can not assist however take into consideration my mother.

BLOCK: Let’s take heed to a few of your track “Coronary heart Of Gold,” which is, I feel, quite a bit about what we have simply been speaking about.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “HEART OF GOLD”)

ALEXANDER: (Singing) In my mom’s eyes, I can really feel the love. And from my father’s arms, a battle rages on my pores and skin.

BLOCK: Abraham, there’s, you understand, clearly your mother’s love within the first line of that track. After which the second line – from my father’s arms, a battle rages on my pores and skin.

ALEXANDER: Yeah.

BLOCK: What is going on on there?

ALEXANDER: So my dad was abusive. And one of many first recollections that I had was being being kicked on the ground. And, you understand, it was troublesome as a result of I am making an attempt – whilst a child, like, you are making an attempt to see, what are the dynamics between your father and your mom? And who’s defending you, and who’s not? And as I grow old and I have a look at the scars that is on my physique, it is conflicting. And so writing that – the battleground being on my pores and skin, the weather of my mind making an attempt to grasp, was it love; was it not, and making an attempt to additionally piece in my mother – and, you understand, a variety of instances after I would get beat, like, I’d see her face. And she or he can be crying, or there’d be instances the place she could not present any feelings. And so I am making an attempt to filter all of these items. And “Coronary heart Of Gold” was the primary track that I ever wrote.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “HEART OF GOLD”)

ALEXANDER: (Singing) ‘Trigger it is turning chilly. My coronary heart is popping chilly.

BLOCK: I am questioning what it is prefer to carry out that track stay, how onerous that is perhaps.

ALEXANDER: You understand, it was extraordinarily troublesome, and now it is therapeutic due to – the vulnerability that I went by means of has now grow to be a power. You understand, if you’re weak and also you let that out, then it would not have energy over you anymore. And so I feel the extra that I sing it, the much less energy it has over me and the extra energy I’ve over it and hoping that whoever listens to it and feels a kindred spirit to what I am saying may also be free of what they’re feeling.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “HEART OF GOLD”)

ALEXANDER: (Singing) And, coronary heart of gold, maintain transferring on. Simply maintain urgent on. Oh, my soul, please keep robust.

BLOCK: You – aside out of your delivery household, you find yourself with an adoptive household in Texas, yeah?

ALEXANDER: Sure, I did. And “Blood Below The Bridge” is a track that’s devoted to them. And, you understand, they are saying that blood is thicker than water, however that does not essentially apply for me. And that has given me life, and that is been there for me, and that is confirmed me easy methods to be compassionate and easy methods to love. And I’m so, so grateful for them for giving me the braveness to actually pursue one thing that I believed was not attainable.

BLOCK: I have been speaking with Abraham Alexander. His debut album is “Sea/Sons.” Thanks a lot for speaking to us.

ALEXANDER: Thanks a lot for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “BLOOD UNDER THE BRIDGE”)

ALEXANDER: (Singing) Scars do not blind me. Silver linings – I put on them proudly on my sleeve.

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