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Alex Harvey and Friends perform at Laureate Records Showcase

You could hear a pin drop among the audience during the Nashville Songwriters Night in the side room of the Martinez at Midem '95. Even though many were forced to stand, top industry professionals set aside their networking to crowd into the intimate venue for the emotional charge from the acoustic performance of great songs by the tunesmiths themselves. A frequent occurrence in Nashville, this performance "in the round" where the songwriters gather on stage, each performing a song and then passing the spotlight on to the next writer, creating a mood as each song is chosen to compliment the last. The turn is traded round and round. This type of performance, also known as a "guitar pull", grew out of the times when songwriters would gather and share one guitar, handing it from one to another.

Last year this was the first time Midem participants had the chance to experience this special kind of song sharing. Performing that night last year with other hit writers, Richard Leigh, Ralph Murphy, & Hugh Prestwood was Alex Harvey.

As I looked around the room, during his performance, I could see the sparkle of tears in the eyes of many listeners. Coming from the Mississippi Delta area, Harvey's roots entwine emotion around the lyrics of each song. Like something straight out of a Tennessee Williams play, Harvey's childhood was spent surrounded by the slow and steady rhythm of a sharecroppers hoe, the blues of all the black people who traded at his father's country store, and the Grand Old Opry squawking through an old AM radio that his mother listened to each Saturday night. The songs penned by Harvey, like "Reuben James" and "Delta Dawn", paint you pictures of things long since gone, sharing the pain and passion of a trail cut deep, and as he sings, you realize that he has lived every note.

Oddly enough, it was Harvey's early interests in acting that placed him in the situation to get him his first success as a songwriter. While playing the lead in a summer drama in Kentucky, he met Billy Edd Wheeler with whom he would co write his first cut which was recorded by Vicki Carr. Prompted to move to Nashville, he then earned a cut by Kenny Rogers, "Reuben James". Rogers was so taken by Harvey's performance that he produced Harvey's first album for Capitol Records. He then went on the road with many great artists including Bette Midler and Commander Cody, and became well-known in the European market with hits in England and Holland.

Texas Music Magazine   Vol. 10  No. 1  January 2001





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