Gospel Star Alexis Spight Talks Struggle, Triumph and Staying Humble
Don't let the red hair, bright clothes, and shiny shoes fool you: Alexis Spight is wise beyond her 19 years.
Since placing second on the fifth season of BET's singing competition Sunday Best, Spight has been prepping to take the gospel world by storm in advance of the release of her solo debut, L.O.L. (Living Out Loud), due March 12.
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All the photo shoots and interviews and promo tours would be a lot for many teenagers to handle, but Spight is careful not to let the newfound fame go to her head.
"I've learned to never forget where I come from," says Spight. "I was just homeless five years ago, so I can just remember that as quickly as I lost my house - in 48 hours - God can take everything that He granted me, back - that instantly."
Spight also keeps a close circle of non- "yes men" around her and, partially due to her stint on Sunday's Best, she has a cadre of superstar mentors (including Yolanda Adams and CeCe Winans) who are helping to guide her career and keep her humble.
Spight counts gospel great Kim Burrell as an especially close friend, and it was Burrell who actually recommended that Spight audition for Sunday Best. Spight was no stranger to singing competitions - she had auditioned for both American Idol and X Factor - but she was nervous about trying out for the gospel-themed show.
"I was slightly intimidated because I knew I would be up against some tremendous talent," explains the incredibly honest Spight, "To me, there is a huge difference between a gospel competition and the regular competitions because people who grew up singing in church have such an amazing sound. Look at Aretha Franklin, and Chaka Kahn, and Steve Wonder."
Despite initial butterflies, Spight delivered one amazing performance after another on Sunday Best, effectively using the nationally televised show to catapult her name and voice to the forefront of the gospel industry.
And like with her personal style, Spight avoids all boxes and notions of conformity when it comes to her music. Surprisingly, country band Rascal Flatts and soul singer Charlie Wilson are among her biggest musical influences.
"They're not gospel artists, but their music is so inspirational and uplifting, and they're so soulful and creative. It's just amazing listening to them," says Spight of Rascal Flatts.
And Charlie Wilson?
"I love Charlie Wilson - take it or leave it," she says, laughing. "I'm talking about old-school Charlie Wilson, with the Gap Band. I love that era of music."
Spight plans to channel some of her diverse musical tastes into L.O.L., creating a project that she says can cross "ethnic barriers, age barriers, and all those kinds of walls."
So far, Spight's camp has released two singles from the album, including her cover of Kirk Franklin's 2007 hit "Imagine Me." Spight wrote her second single, "Steady," about two years ago. The song is about staying grounded and immovable in the midst of life's inevitable ups and downs, and it's a message that was - and is - close to her heart.
"I was going through this traumatic time in my life, and there was so much going on in the world," says Spight. "My prayer was that God would cover me and keep me grounded, and that's something that I've even learned to apply to my life now, being in this industry."
Based on industry and public reception, it certainly seems as though Spight is well on her way to establishing an iconic career like those of the legends she admires. In addition to an amazing voice, she possesses a grateful spirit and a level of maturity that allows her to appreciate the road that God has laid before her and to trust that all of it is working together for her good.
"God does everything strategically, and everything that he does is preparation for something else," adds Spight. "I believe that Sunday's Best was predestined, and I believe that [being homeless] was predestined. I believe that this was all preparation for this journey, and now when God gives me things I have such an appreciation."
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