Alexa Ray JoelView in iTunes
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Listening to Alexa Ray Joel's music, it's not difficult to imagine the young singer, songwriter, and pianist had parents who nurtured her love of music and encouraged her to follow her muse. You might not guess that one of them was pop star Billy Joel, given the jazz-influenced textures and deeply personal yet playfully insouciant lyrical perspective of her songs. Alexa Ray Joel was born to Joel and his wife Christie Brinkley on January 1, 1986; she's said that her love of music began with her father singing nursery rhymes to her at his piano, and she began writing simple tunes as a youngster. At age 11, Alexa began taking classical piano lessons, which she continued for five years, aided in part by the perfect pitch she inherited from her dad. At 17, Alexa attended a five-week workshop for budding musicians at the Berklee College of Music, which she cites with encouraging her to explore her gifts as a singer and performer. After completing high school, Alexa enrolled at New York University as a musical theater student, but in her freshman year she took a leave of absence and opted to focus on launching her career as a musician. Assembling a band with Demian Sims on guitar, Jimmy Riot on bass, and Scottie Garapolo on drums, Alexa began working up material and played her first gigs at Maxwell's, a venerable indie rock venue in Hoboken, NJ, when she was 19. While Alexa has cited her parents with offering great support to her career, both she and her famous folks insist she's followed her own musical path without interference and at her own pace. In the fall of 2006, Alexa released her first CD, a six-song EP called Sketches, featuring five original tunes and a cover of Neil Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down," with a full-length album scheduled for release in 2007. ~ Mark Deming