Water­loo singer Lexi Kreko­rian stars in new Net­flix re­al­ity se­ries

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY LYNN VENHAUS

When Lexi Kreko­rian’s blind au­di­tion at “The Voice” did not pan out, she was dev­as­tated. But 30 days later, her mo­ment ar­rived. And she has now made her Net­flix de­but as part of the cast of “West­side,” a new re­al­ity show fea­tur­ing nine strug­gling mu­si­cians.

All eight episodes be­came avail­able Nov. 9, show­ing the chal­lenges and ex­cite­ment of stag­ing a Hol­ly­wood show­case, and delv­ing into the per­sonal lives of the as­pir­ing per­form­ers. The do­cuseries is a com­bi­na­tion of “The Real World,” “Amer­i­can Idol” and “Glee.”

Kreko­rian, who grew up in Water­loo, goes by the stage name, Alexan­dra Kay. She has been work­ing as a coun­try mu­sic artist for sev­eral years and has played through­out the metropoli­tan St. Louis area.

“It is so ex­cit­ing. The amount of love and sup­port I have re­ceived is in­cred­i­ble,” she said.

Kreko­rian talked to her fans over the week­end, live on Face­book, while nurs­ing a cold, but clearly ex­cited that the wait was over. She came home to sing at a wed­ding.

“I fig­ure peo­ple were go­ing to set­tle in this week­end and binge­watch,” she said. “The amount of sup­port I’m get­ting is ab­so­lutely in­sane. Peo­ple were set­ting up watch par­ties. I’m just so over­whelmed by the love and

I’m so grate­ful,” she said.

She knows that re­al­ity tele­vi­sion some­times is staged or does not seem re­al­is­tic, but she stressed this show was au­then­tic.

“Noth­ing was planned. It’s not fake. It was gen­uinely hap­pen­ing in the mo­ment, it’s le­git,” Kreko­rian said. “They doc­u­mented our lives, loves and strug­gles try­ing to make it in the mu­sic busi­ness. The nine of us were all to­tally dif­fer­ent, and now we are one big happy fam­ily.”

She joined fel­low singer­song­writ­ers Caitlin Ary, 29; James By­ous, 29; Leo Gallo, 32; Arika Gluck, 20; Austin Kolbe, 24; Sean Pa­trick Mur­ray, 31;

Taz Zavala, 29; and Pia Toscano, 30, who was one of the “Amer­i­can Idol” Sea­son 10 fi­nal­ists, as they nav­i­gated the mu­sic busi­ness.

“I faced my fears and moved my life to L.A. chas­ing a dream, never in mil­lion years did I ex­pect to gain eight best friends and mem­o­ries I will never for­get. It has been a roller coaster ride of emo­tions,” she said.

“We poured our blood sweat and tears — so many tears into this. I’m ready for the world to meet my in­cred­i­bly tal­ented

new fam­ily.”

‘YOU THINK YOU KNOW SOME­ONE’

She was ea­ger for peo­ple to hear her mu­sic. Her first solo sin­gle, “You Think

You Know Some­one (fea­tur­ing Alexan­dra Kay),” which she co-wrote, has been re­leased and so has the mu­sic video.

“I wrote a song for the show with Shane McAnally and Josh Os­bourne, two of the best song­writ­ers in coun­try mu­sic. I was so ner­vous, But I’m so ex­cited for the world to hear the song. They flew me to Nashville, and I was on Cloud Nine the en­tire time,” she said.

The sound­track is now avail­able on Spo­tify, iTunes, Ap­ple Mu­sic and Ama­zon, re­leased by Warner Brothers Records. YouTube.com is where all the mu­sic videos are posted.

Her duets, “Sure as Hell Hope,” with Caitlin Ary, and “Cham­pagne High,” with Pia Toscano and Taz Zavala, are also re­leased on the “West­side” sound­track.

Re­lieved to fi­nally talk about the show af­ter the trailer dropped last month, she dis­cussed dur­ing a phone in­ter­view about film­ing in Los An­ge­les for a year and her mu­sic ca­reer ex­pe­ri­ences.

“It was so hard not be­ing able to say any­thing about it,” she said. “The orig­i­nal con­cept was com­pletely dif­fer­ent than what it turned out to be, but it turned out re­ally great. I can’t wait for Amer­ica to see it.”

At 27, Kreko­rian has learned how to nav­i­gate the good, bad and ugly in a thrilling yet dif­fi­cult busi­ness. How things tran­spired are what she still de­scribes as sur­real.

“Talk about be­ing pa­tient and wait­ing for the right op­por­tu­nity. This project to­tally changed my life,” she said.

Kreko­rian still has a house in Mill­stadt with her boyfriend of six years, In­di­ana Touchette, and cur­rently lives in Los An­ge­les.

In the Net­flix cap­sule de­scrip­tions of each hour­long show, Lexi is sin­gled out in episodes 5, “Pres­sure,” with the state­ment “Lexi re­con­sid­ers what she left back home,” and in episode 6, “Cri­tique,” which said: “Lexi ex­plores a crit­i­cal de­ci­sion.”

SOME­THING SPE­CIAL COM­ING

So, how did she get here to this mo­ment? Sum­mer of 2017 turned out to be “the worst of times, the best of times,” as Dick­ens once wrote.

“I was just dev­as­tated that I didn’t get a chair to turn. But had I got­ten any far­ther on ‘The Voice,’ I legally would not have been al­lowed to par­tic­i­pate in ‘West­side.’ I re­ally feel like my not ad­vanc­ing on ‘The Voice’ was God telling me ‘Just be pa­tient. I have some­thing spe­cial com­ing to you’,” she said.

In a lucky mo­ment of prepa­ra­tion meets op­por­tu­nity, a mu­si­cian friend who works as an Uber driver on the side, called her 30 days af­ter the crush­ing NBC de­feat. He said he picked up the head pro­ducer of this new mu­si­cal re­al­ity TV show as an Uber fare, and the guy started talked about the show.

“He was search­ing for a coun­try artist to be a part of this amaz­ing project with eight other singer-song­writ- ers,” she said. “My friend pulls up my ‘Jo­lene’ video on his phone and hands it to the pro­ducer in his back seat. The pro­ducer watches a few videos, then asks for my in­for­ma­tion as he was be­ing dropped off at his lo­ca­tion.”

On July 28, 2017, she re­ceived a call from a cast­ing di­rec­tor, and moved to Los An­ge­les in Oc­to­ber to be­gin film­ing. she ex­pected it to take five months; they fol­lowed the cast for an ad­di­tional seven months.

What may sound corny to some, was re­al­ity for Kreko­rian and her bond with the other con­tes­tants.

“We have cried to­gether, laughed to­gether, sang songs and wrote po­etry to­gether, shared our sto­ries of tri­umph and de­feat. I am blessed be­yond be­lief to have found my place in this fam­ily of nine,” she said.

“In the show, we were all able to dig deep and tell our sto­ries about our strug­gles try­ing to come up in the mu­sic busi­ness. We got to write songs with some of our idols. We also wrote songs to­gether and worked with top pro­duc­ers to cre­ate the mu­sic for the sound­track,” she said.

Last month, they be­gan pro­mot­ing the show and were to­gether again.

“We’re to­gether all the time. We re­ally want to be to­gether,” she said, as she pre­pared to meet them for a birthday party.

Kreko­rian said Touchette ap­pears in the show too. He is a union la­borer who works on high­ways and bridges.

“West­side” wanted to show per­sonal lives – drama, con­flict and up­lift­ing, all of it.

“It shows it’s hard to be in a re­la­tion­ship and on the road. The dis­tance was re­ally hard, and he ended up mov­ing out here. He’s able to be a part of it as well,” she said.

THE BAND AND ITS ROOTS

The film crew came to the metro-east to look at her roots.

“The film crew ac­tu­ally came to our house in Mill­stadt and filmed us at Sil­ver Creek in Belleville — it was re­ally cool. I’m ex­cited for the world to see how hugely sup­port­ive our lit­tle cor­ner of Illi­nois truly is.”

At the end of sum­mer, Kreko­rian came home to play mu­sic. The Alexan­dra Kay Band in­cludes Jeff “Sch­mitty” Sch­mitz on gui­tar, Jake Hansel­man on drums, Greg Ma­nis on bass and Mark Hochberg on fid­dle.

“My band back home and I have a blast,” she said. “They are so ex­cited for me and al­ways help­ing me out co­or­di­nat­ing things for our gigs when I am so far away. We are all a team and they are the best band I could ever ask for,” she said.

Be­sides Sil­ver Creek in Belleville, Reif­schnei­der’s Grill and Grape in Columbia, Sy­berg’s in O’Fal­lon and other lo­ca­tions, Mikey’s Pub and Sch­mitty’s in Smith­ton, and Ott’s Tav­ern in Mill­stadt are some of the places they played reg­u­larly.

“I played the old bar cir­cuit I have been play­ing for the past three years, and it was re­ally great to be home and see ev­ery­one. They are all so sup­port­ive of me. They’re happy about the show, and I can’t wait for ev­ery­one to see it,” she said.

She is known for play­ing many coun­try songs pop­u­lar in the 1990s, like Jo Dee Messina, Faith Hill and her all-time fa­vorite, Garth Brooks.

“Be­cause that’s what I want to hear, mu­sic from my child­hood, takes peo­ple back. It con­nects with peo­ple. I gained a lot of friends by play­ing it, and I’m grate­ful,” she said.

Her voice has been com­pared to an­other Illi­nois woman, blue­grass­coun­try singer Ali­son Krauss, who has won 27 Grammy Awards and grew up in Cham­paign.

COUN­TRY MU­SIC NICHE

Kreko­rian and her band stood out in the lo­cal mu­sic scene. She was the lo­cal “Un­corked” artist for two years, pre­sented at the an­nual CBS Ra­dio-spon­sored wine-and-fes­ti­val event down­town St. Louis, and last year, opened for Gavin DeGraw.

Paul Cook, long­time af­ter­noon drive-time host on Y98 Ra­dio, said he could tell Lexi was a ris­ing star.

“She is such a sweet­heart, this down­home girl from Illi­nois, and she sounds so au­then­tic. I can’t wait for Amer­ica to get to know her,” Cook said.

Be­fore that, she won the Bat­tle of the Bands Con­test that 93.7FM The Bull spon­sored, Con­cert in The

Corn, which took place at the Gate­way Mo­tor­sports Park.

What also set Kreko­rian apart is her work ethic.

At 14, she started writ­ing songs, but didn’t per­form un­til she was 18. She acted and sang in com­mu­nity mu­si­cal the­ater in the metro-east. She sang a va­ri­ety of gen­res. But she didn’t re­ally play mu­sic un­til she was 23.

“I was pre­par­ing my­self for play­ing in front of peo­ple,” she said. “I was writ­ing a lot.”

In 2014, she de­cided that coun­try mu­sic was her niche. The songs she were writ­ing were all like the mu­sic she grew up lis­ten­ing to, and what her par­ents lis­tened to at home.

“I just de­cided that I needed to be who I am,” she said.

In high school, she did not have suc­cess au­di­tion­ing.

“I never got a solo in cho­rus. I would try out for con­cert choir, other things. So, it feels good to prove my­self as a vo­cal­ist,” she said.

“I got shut down a lot. It made me just work harder. Get­ting a door slammed shut was good prepa­ra­tion

for the mu­sic busi­ness pit­falls. I just kept singing and writ­ing,” she said.

In 2011, she tried out for “Amer­i­can Idol” when they held au­di­tions in St. Louis, ad­vanc­ing three rounds be­fore be­ing cut.

“I was very in­ex­pe­ri­enced the first time. I was so ner­vous. I stopped singing, when I should have kept go­ing. They tell you to keep go­ing. It was not meant to be,” she said.

LEARN­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE

Be­cause her “Jo­lene” video, posted in 2016, re­ceived mil­lions of views, she was con­tacted by a pro­ducer on “The Voice” last year, as they were se­lect­ing five peo­ple to add to the show when the Blind Au­di­tions started. She did not have to au­di­tion and was cho­sen, but then not a sin­gle chair turned when she went be­fore Blake Shel­ton, Adam Levine, Mi­ley Cyrus and Jen­nifer Hud­son.

De­spite not suc­ceed­ing, she chalked it up as a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I stayed in L.A. It’s so crazy, it was right down from here in Bur­bank, so I’ve come full cir­cle,” she said. “You just have to keep your nose to the grind­stone. Keep au­di­tion­ing. I got knocked down a lot, but I got back up,” she said.

PRO­VIDED

Lexi Kreko­rian per­forms re­cently in Mill­stadt. She has been work­ing as a coun­try mu­sic artist for sev­eral years.

PRO­VIDED

Water­loo born and raised singer Lexi Kreko­rian, known on stage as Alexan­dra Kay, is fea­tured in a new Net­flix docu-se­ries “West­side.”

NET­FLIX

Lexi Kreko­rian, known on stage as Alexan­dra Kay, is fea­tured in a new Net­flix docu-se­ries “West­side.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.