Alexz Johnson and Charlene Kaye are two independent musicians based out of New York, who have joined forces for a tour across America plus Toronto, Canada. I have been a long time fan of Alexz, and became a fan of Charlene in recent years. After Alexz Johnson relocated to Brooklyn, it seemed only a matter of time until these two would cross paths after playing the same venues.
After a kickoff show in New York City on March 1st, Alexz and Charlene loaded some vans and set out on the road for 20 shows. Other New York-based musicians along for the ride include Jay Stolar, Megan Cox, and Misty Boyce. And so was born, The ‘Charlexz’ Tour.
Alexz Johnson is a Canadian musician and actress from Maple Ridge, B.C. You may have seen her on the TV series Instant Star, or heard her singing the theme for Degrassi: The Next Generation. She has signed two major-label record deals, only to have her hard work not see the light of day because of internal label shuffles. She left that messy business behind and decided to manage her music, her way.
Alexz is a singer-songwriter influenced by a wide variety of musicians. The girl has got a huge voice; one of those rare ones that can hit listeners right in the heart. Since 2010, Alexz has released both an album and a remix album, as well as three compilation albums of demos from her previous record deals. In 2012 Alexz released the Skipping Stone EP, which she is promoting now on tour.
On tour Alexz plays a few songs from her first album, like “Voodoo”, a laid-back but driving song. A few “classic” Alexz Johnson songs are thrown in, including “Running With The Devil”, a wonderfully written song performed with Misty Boyce providing great harmonies. She also plays some songs from her Skipping Stone EP, as well as some new material, like the definite stand out song “Hero”, an anthem-type song showcasing Alexz’s ability to sing with power when the song calls for it, and likewise dial it back when needed. All this results in a dynamic and energetic performance.
Alexz Johnson singing “Hero” in New York City
Hawaiian-born Charlene Kaye has been based out of New York since 2009, after attending University of Michigan (Go Blue!). She has a smooth voice with a great range, and is a very talented guitarist. I had the pleasure of seeing her perform in 2012 on the Apocalyptour with Team Starkid. Her music has an indie-artist vibe with all the best elements of Pop, Rock, and R&B. She can get you on your feet jumping and dancing, just as easily as she can slow time down and render an entire theater silent.
Charlene’s debut album was titled Things I Will Need in the Past, which was followed by the Charlene Kaye & The Brilliant Eyes EP, The Brilliant Eyes being her band configuration of Tomek Miernowski, Dave Scalia, and Megan Cox. She then released the single Dress and Tie featuring Darren Criss. Her latest release is her sophomore album Animal Love.
On tour, Charlene plays many songs from her Animal Love album, including “Animal Love I” and “Animal Love II”. These two songs are a fine example of the magical way that Charlene’s voice mixes with Megan Cox’s harmonies. “Woman Up” is a true crowd-pumper that strikes motivation into the hearts of the audience. She also performs a few oldies but goodies, like “Skin and Bones”. A new song also played on this tour, called “You”, and has a catchy guitar riff, wicked keyboard synths, and a chorus that will get you out of your seats.
Charlene Kaye singing “Animal Love II” in New York City
The ‘Charlexz’ Tour
Success with crowd funding is something that these two musicians have in common. Charlene Kaye funded her Animal Love album on Kickstarter in 2011, reaching her goal of $20,000 after just 5 days. After all the troubles with major labels, Alexz used Kickstarter to raise money to tour across Canada and America in 2012. She needed $32,000, but asked for $30,000, and reached that goal in one day. By the end of the fundraiser, Alexz had raised over twice the amount she originally needed. Alexz decided to get her fans involved once again and is raising funds for her second album on Pledge Music.
— Alanna (@alannajtay) March 8, 2013
These two artists have been hinting at a collaboration of sorts for a few months now, but now we know all their secretive work has culminated in a tour across America. In a recent interview with Young Music City, Alexz said:
“I’m co-headlining with Charlene Kaye who I met in the Rockwood scene in New York – she’s a super talented, fierce musician and I respect her a lot. We just kind of hit it off and we thought, ‘why not just go on tour?’”
Every night, the pair closes out the show by playing a cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” with all tour-members on stage. I didn’t stop believing these two musicians would meet, and look how that turned out! It’s a fitting closing number because of the way that these women have made real careers for themselves, in a very DIY manner.