We love creative expression. Especially art that is honest and authentic, that connects us to the artist and the world around us. Many of us at Sun Ministries are musicians, and we have written our own testimonies into songs, poems, and novels. We have published 4 podcast episodes exploring creative expression.
This year, Sun Cafe has been hosting a lot of music. One artist has stood out. Her name is Alex Betts, and she is a resident of Hyde Park, the same neighborhood we work and live in. She has written incredible songs that tell stories of herself and those around her. She has a great voice and plays piano.
We want to encourage local artists, especially those we feel are expressing good things in a good way. We interviewed Alex Betts to get some background to her art.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up here in St. Louis in Hyde Park. I've lived here my entire life.
What was it like growing up?
Growing up was good for me. I got the full experience. I have a big sister and a twin brother that I got to grow up with and I had a mother who taught me well and a father that was there when I needed him. I had lots of friends and I've almost never met a stranger. I loved talking to people and meeting people. I was a little wild but that was just my charm :)
What shaped who you are? Was it your neighborhood, community, education, family, an individual, faith, etc?
I believe all of those things shaped who I am. My neighborhood isn't the best in St. Louis but it's a relatively good neighborhood in my eyes. Church and community always went hand in hand for me because my church is very active in my community. Family was important because no matter what, you always have each other (my mom always tells me that I was born with a best friend). And education was also important. I was never bored in my house because everywhere you look there's a book or a magazine somewhere (my house was like a library). Speaking of libraries, my mom always took the 3 of us to Central Library. So knowledge was never a chore, it was always fun to learn something new. All of those things pretty much shaped who I am.
What is your earliest/clearest music-related memory?
My earliest and clearest memory of music is not really just one memory, it's more like a collection of fragments. I remember singing in the Angel Choir at my church (which was like preschoolers singing), I remember watching my mom sing and play piano nearly everyday, when it was time to wake up for school in the morning, my mom would sing a special song that she came up with herself. Playing music with my family in our living room together in a family jam session, dancing around the kitchen all the time with my sister listening to radio Disney.
When did you start making music?
I started making music at 11. I can't really remember why, but I know before writing songs I was interested in poetry. I liked writing poems that rhymed and had rhythm a lot and I played piano almost everyday. So one day I wrote a song and them I started plunking out notes on the piano to go with it.
Why do you currently make music?
I make music because I love it. It's never a chore to do something you love. I do it because it makes me happy and because it makes others happy. I like seeing smiles on other people's faces and I like when people see what I see (and vice versa)
What inspires your music? What do you most often write about, or what kinds of songs are you drawn to?
I like songs about love. Not the crappy kind, but the real kind you used to hear in songs from before money and sex. I like feeling and sincerity. I like the feeling you get when you've found that song the makes your heart wrench because you know how that feels or because you can feel what the artist feels. I like songs that are fun or crazy but still have a meaning behind it. Like 90s music. I like 90s music. Or anything before 2010 to be honest.
Are you involved in any other forms of creative expression?
I like to dance, but only when I'm by myself or being silly with people, I like to draw. I love to draw, I used to paint, too, but I had to let that go. It gets everywhere. I like making people laugh, and I still like poetry (I need to go back to writing it though), I like acting (but that's once every blue moon). And I love to cook. And read. A lot.
Can you recommend 3 artists or albums?
Listen to Brian McKnight. Just any album. Pick one. Pick all of them. Leslie Odem Jr's Simply Christmas album is wonderful. I love it. La'Porsha Renae's Already All Ready. I've been hooked on that album for weeks.
What do you want to accomplish with music?
I want to open people's eyes and let them see from another perspective. I want people to know that I see them and that other people see them. I want to help people in the way I know best, and that is my gift of music.