After a year off (you know why), Sand City’s West End Celebration is making a triumphant return for its 20th anniversary featuring local artists, crafters and four stages of live music. On that music roster is a recent transplant named Cindy Alexander who will be marking an occasion of her own – her local debut.
Like so many who relocate here, it was a tourist visit that first sparked her interest. “I felt inspired here, especially in Big Sur and in the forests around Carmel,” says the singer-songwriter, who came from Los Angeles. “The energy was much stronger here and on a much different level than in LA. And all of the natural beauty was just mesmerizing. I couldn’t wait to come back, and now here I am.”
It was her grandparents whose musicality first began to rub off on Alexander at a young age. She recalls singing at age 3 as they played piano. By age 6 she was taking piano lessons.
“Singing was my first obvious talent, and so voice was my very first instrument,” she says. “It was such a gift.”
Her training, both voice and piano, were classical in nature. Then one day in the ninth grade while she was doing her classical studies, the music suddenly veered in another direction. Within earshot was noted author and psychiatrist Brian Weiss (Many Lives, Many Masters) who exclaimed when he heard the improvisation.
“Now that is what you should do,” he said. “Forget Cabaret, Broadway, recital halls. Just do that style that you just played, and you’ll be fine.”
Now 10 albums into a 20-plus-year, award-decorated recording, touring and performing career, Alexander eschews the singer-songwriter label. “What I really am is a storyteller,” she says. “My career is storytelling my life from my diaries and my journals set to music. Over time, I realized this is my purpose and function.”
Stylistically, both vocals and accompaniments are simple, clear, accessible and without trills and embellishments.
Trading large-market Los Angeles, the epicenter of the entertainment universe, for small-market Monterey County, won’t she get a little bored? Alexander is emphatic. “Absolutely not,” she says. “I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I’m new here so I realize that I have to put in the work to become a known part of this wonderful community, and I’m willing to do just that.”
This wonderful musical community includes, for example, high-energy reggae-fusion group Sensory Tribe; blues mainstays Red Beans & Rice and Chris Cain, and a more soulful blues take from the El Dorados; singer-songwriter Leche Malo; electric violinist Razzvio; funky and danceable tunes from The BASSment; DJ Hanif Wondir; and more – all artists with whom she’ll share the stage at West End this weekend.
CINDY ALEXANDER performs at 1:15pm on Saturday, Aug. 28 on the Independent Stage. Sand City’s West End Celebration takes place Aug. 28-29. Free. westendcelebration.com