Williamsburg Native Wins Top Prize in Nashville Songwriting Competition
The Bluebird Café in Nashville, Tennessee is one of the most revered institutions in all of country music. Since the early 1980s he has been a starting point for a number of country stars. Artists like Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, and Dirks Bentley all graced this scene regularly before becoming household names.
In 2004, 15-year-old Taylor Swift was offered a recording contract after only one performance at the venue.
Then last Monday another name was added to that prestigious list when Williamsburg native Alexa Allmann took to the Café’s virtual open mic stage after winning the restaurant’s Golden Pick songwriting contest. for the month of May.
It doesn’t seem surprising that Alexa won the contest. Artistic expression is deeply rooted in his family.
“We were a house of the performing arts,” she recalls. “Both of my parents were actors before they had kids, so music, drama and dancing were part of our lives from the very beginning.”
Beginning at the piano, Alexa continued to learn several instruments, including the harp, through a program at Laurel Lane Elementary School. Thanks to the knowledge acquired through this program, she was able to learn to play the guitar.
Throughout her formative years, Alexa continued to immerse herself in the arts throughout her formative years. Coming from a theater family, she attributes major influences to musical theater giants like Stephen Sondheim and Rogers & Hammerstein.
“The Sound of Music is my all-time favorite movie,” she laughs. “Julie Andrews is the queen.”
She loved the medium so much that her elementary school teachers let Alexis and her friends perform during school meals. On the other side of the spectrum, Alexa says Shania Twain also played a pivotal role in shaping her into the artist she is today.
“This is probably where I started to get the vocal phrasing used,” she noted. “The way I move between octaves is the way I sang ‘like Shania Twain’ when I sang her songs.”
As for writing the song, it’s just something she’s been doing since she was six. “When I was little, my parents helped me understand songwriting as a way to process my emotions and it was through their creativity and guidance that my music became my journal,” says- it. “My sister describes it as a lyrical diarism.”
It might be seen as a daunting task for many people to be so honest about how they felt in their own diary, let alone out loud for other people to hear.
Alexa’s willingness to be open to deep human emotions, such as loss and grief, caught the attention of the contest judges. “Hallelujah”, the song. She wrote it as a tribute to the husband of her close friend, Greg, who committed suicide in 2019.
Encouraged by those around her to enter the contest, Alexa knew which song she wanted to participate in, but before doing so, she conducted it by her friend.
“I told her I wanted to publish the song and that I didn’t have to mention Greg,” she recalls. “She said ‘I would really love if you did.’ Because I wish more people understood her story and felt more comfortable talking about mental health and ending the stigma.
After Alexa entered the contest, she strongly doubted that she would actually win. She thought the song would be too sad to get any real consideration. “So I put it out of my head and was so surprised when I got the call from the Bluebird that I won for the month of May.”
One contest winner, selected each month, wins a brand new Taylor guitar and the opportunity to play the Café’s open mic night. Since the pandemic closed concert halls, she has had to settle for performing on the virtual stage on May 17.
Alexa, who currently lives in Utica, NY with her husband Matthew, says she plans to travel to Nashville once the Bluebird can resume normal operations. In the meantime, all this experience has confirmed her talents as a songwriter.
“I can’t thank Bluebird and Taylor Guitars enough,” she said. “For someone like me who doesn’t usually perform his songs publicly… I can’t put words into what it means to be heard by the Bluebird is amazing and winning is a dream come true.”
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Click on the video below to listen to Alexa Allmann’s award-winning song, “Hallelujah”.
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