Alex Guthrie at the piano. Learn more about him at

Community Voices: Middle school orchestra sets stage for national gig

Alex Guthrie is a street musician from Marietta, and although it may appear he’s on the road to becoming an overnight sensation, his singer/songwriter path goes back a few years, especially for someone so young. He’s just had a birthday that’s taken him near his mid-twenties.

You’d have to be a troll under a bridge to miss Alex living out his dream of having his music heard by millions. It began just before spring with television advertising spots introducing Alex making music in Woodruff Park. Then, along comes Jennifer Hudson to sing with him, and “it’s been lovely days,” ever since, he happily admitted.

As anyone in East Cobb who knew Alex probably did, I’d stop in proud disbelief to watch whenever his American Family Insurance spots would air. But Alex is already known across and beyond his hometown, with tours that have taken him to Maryland, South Carolina, Florida, the Great Lakes, Wisconsin, for the Milwaukee Summer Fest, and more.

He told me that surprised look he has when Jennifer Hudson appears and begins to sing with him is genuine, as he had no idea what he’d been hired to do. He’d answered an open casting call, and after the auditions, was told only that it was a live musical performance in a park. And so he sang, take after take of “Lovely Day,” still thinking he must be a background extra in a commercial spot, but not fully knowing his role, until Jennifer Hudson joins him in their live, impromptu duet.

Then his radio spots began to air and he’s on the radio during my commute. Several times a day, Alex could be heard singing and spreading the word that any dream is possible with the right support.

Alex and my youngest son played orchestral bass with the Simpson Middle School Orchestra, under the direction of teacher, Anne Stevens. Positioned in the back, perched upon tall stools, their haunting and foreboding chords provided an undercurrent of mystery and depth to each song. Their long bangs swinging out the beat, twenty-first-century beatnik-style, enchanting their female classmates with their ahead-of-the-curve hair swaying in front of their too-shy-to notice faces.

Alex shared with me that his interest in playing music began with this orchestra class. Then he began attending Lassiter High School and switched to chorus and thus the beginning of his singer/songwriter career. He tried college after high school, but soon discovered that his muse was directing him to write his own music and play his own songs. Before long, he was winning talent contests and getting paid for singing in local pubs and neighborhood music venues.

His commercials are running all over the country and have been renewed another thirteen weeks. If you haven’t seen or heard one of Alex’s spots, you’ll have another six months, or better, catch him at one of his local bookings.

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