Paper Jams: Alex Boyé brings adversity to the forefront with powerful songs

FEATURE — Alex Boyé, a British-American artist known for his African-infused pop songs and his recent music video work with Dixie State University, visited the Canyon Media office to not only discuss life’s hardships but to sing about them as well.

Entertainer Alex Boyé interacts with students during a lunchtime assembly at Pine View High School, St. George, Utah, Sept. 28, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

The performance is the lastest installment of “Paper Jams,” St. George News’ music series, and it took place after Boyé’s visit with students at Pine View High School earlier in the day.

Read more: In wake of student’s suicide, Alex Boyé brings positive message to Pine View High School

While at Canyon Media, Boyé sang four songs during the 30-minute performance session: “Celebrate,” “Heart of a Lion,” “Survivor” and “Bend Not Break.”

Boyé has experienced some of his own difficulties, many of which have inspired some of his music. He was born in London and said at the age of 16, he was homeless and eating food out of a trash can. Boyé said it wasn’t a big deal the first time, but he realized he had a major problem after he no longer felt embarrassed about it or checked to see if anyone was watching. This inspired his song “Survivor.”

I don’t know if you can get so low to the point where you start eating out of the trash and being OK with it,” he shared during the “Paper Jams” session before singing “Survivor.”

“So that’s kind of what this song is about,” he said. “It’s about just getting through it and coming out the other end.”

On a more fierce note, Boyé shared an experience where he got to stare at a lion face to face – in a cage of course – while visiting Africa about three years ago.

“When you look into the eyes of a lion…it’s like the most empowering feeling. You see like just absolute fearlessness.”

This experience inspired his song “Heart of a Lion,” where Boyé implores others to think of what life would be like if they did everything like a lion and had more confidence.

“How would we go into our first job interview?” he said. “How would we handle asking that girl out on a date that you’ve been wanting to date? Even just life…how much more confidence would you feel being a father or being a mother?”

Alex Boyé performs during “Out of the Darkness Walk” event sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Washington, Utah, Sept. 29, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News

Perhaps the most touching and sensitive song Boyé performed during the session is the one that brought him to St. George for the “Out of the Darkness Walk” called “Bend Not Break.”

Read more: Hundreds walk to bring suicide “Out of the Darkness”; photo gallery

Donning a black T-shirt with the phrase “suicide sucks,” he shared the experience behind writing this song and what it took to create the music video.

He was recording an entire album three months ago in a studio in Burbank, California, with American Idol’s Randy Jackson. After they finished early, he headed back to his hotel. Boyé was sitting on the “crapper,” he said laughing, when he suddenly heard a voice say, “You’re not done yet.”

“It was like, ‘You need to go back in there and write another song, and it needs to be about suicide,'” he said.

Feeling overwhelmed with emotion, Boyé ran back to the studio to tell the people that he had one more song to write. When they asked him what the song was about, he described the following:

Let me create a scenario for you. Imagine like you’re on this beautiful leisurely walk, and you’re on the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s night and everything, and then you look over, and you see someone on the edge of the bridge and they’re about to jump. You’re the only person who could save them. What are you going to say?

It took them one hour to write the song, he said. Boyé didn’t think about the song again for a couple of months until his manager released it to a suicide prevention charity organization. The organization wanted to use his song to promote Suicide Awareness Month and asked him to create a music video within two weeks.

Alex Boyé in the Canyon Media office for a “Paper Jams” session, Sept. 28, 2018 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

After having no vision for his video, he became aware of Herriman High School in northern Utah, which lost seven students to suicide in the span of less than a year. He knew then that he wanted to shoot his video in Herriman, so he penned a public letter to the city on his Facebook page. After an hour, he said he had 600 messages from citizens and school officials from Herriman offering to help with his video.

While Boyé didn’t want to ask anyone in the community who lost a friend or child to suicide to be involved in the video, many of them showed up anyway. He said one of the most touching moments from filming the music video was meeting a woman who lost her son to suicide.

“I remember I was asking her like why she came,” he said, “and she said something that hit me really hard. She said, ‘Look, I miss my son. We can’t save everybody, but we can save somebody.'”

That was his goal all along in creating this video, he said – for it to save somebody and to begin the healing process.

Email: mheckenliable@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

 

 

 

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