Abraham Alexander is a Fort Worth-based musician. His debut full-length album “Sea/sons” will be released on April 14. (Courtesy photo | Elle Caerbert)

A few years ago, if you asked Abraham Alexander if he sang, his answer would have been no.

But the Fort Worth artist is releasing his debut album “Sea/Sons” on April 14 with the backing of Dualtone Records.

“It feels magical,” he said. “They say if everything we’ve ever done dies with us, then our vision is too small. And in this particular season in my life, I’m about to release something that will forever outlive me.”

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‘The song “Knee Deep” started writing itself’

Folk, soul and gospel sounds melt together in the album, which, in many ways, is a tribute to the singer and songwriter’s family and childhood.

The album cover was based on a photo of Alexander and his brothers wading off the coast of Greece as their mom beckoned them back to shore.

“I saw the photo… and immediately the song ‘Knee Deep’ started writing itself,” he said. “I was staring at that photo and what a time that was. I was thinking of my brothers and what we’ve been through and that …  just kind of happened with me staring at this photo for four or five hours.” 

Alexander was born in Greece to Nigerian parents, and the photo marked his family’s last swim before moving to the United States.

Singing “Hurry up, hurry up / dry them off, dry them off / we’ve got places to go / knee deep in the unknown,” Alexander recalled his mother’s words while also reflecting on the ending of one chapter and the beginning of a new one.

Music provided a means for Alexander to process the move and the deaths of his mother and brother Xavier, for whom the opening track was named and written.

Looking at the photo of the swim, Alexander initially wished he could go back in time and change how he saw that moment. 

But as I kept marinating on that thought, the more I realized that, no, I shouldn’t go back, that I should leave things as they were,” he said. “Because if I turned my shoulder too much to the right or too much to the left, I could’ve missed my perspective that I had as a kid. Every single moment leads to the next. ” 

‘I can hum for sure’

Alexander taught himself to play guitar by watching Youtube videos while nursing a soccer injury during college at Texas Wesleyan University. 

Around 2014, Alexander was given the opportunity to help with background vocals for another artist’s album.

“I don’t sing, but I can hum for sure,” he said to the producers. “They were like, ‘Great. Come to the studio where we’re working with this guy from Fort Worth.’ ”

The guy from Fort Worth happened to be Leon Bridges, who was recording his debut record “Coming Home,” which would later be nominated for best R&B album at the Grammys. 

“He’s the one that encouraged me to go do those open mic nights,” Alexander recalled. “He said, ‘You’re a great guitar player, go write some songs and start singing them at an open mic night.”

Through those experiences Alexander grew as a guitar player, singer and songwriter.
In 2021, he earned a spot as an opener on Bridges’ tour for “Gold-Diggers Sound.”

‘It is beyond words’

Singer-songwriter Brandon Marcel was also in the studio at Niles City Sound for the “Coming Home” sessions. At the time, he didn’t know who Alexander was.

“​​We had already done a couple of sessions. And then one day I just see this guy, sitting in a chair,” he recalled. “And, you know, Abe dresses pretty sharp, so I was like, ‘Oh, it has to be somebody with management or whatever.’”

The two bonded over their love of music and sports, became friends and have performed and collaborated together several times since — including on “Sea/Sons.” 

Writing and playing together comes naturally for them, Marcel said.

“I might come over to his place or something. He just picks up the guitar and plays something, and then we start writing,” he said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh, I can have a session at 3 p.m.’ It’s so organic that there’s never really a point where we stop creating.”

Witnessing Alexander’s evolution as an artist has been gratifying for Marcel, who said he makes a point to tell his friend how proud he is of him.

“Within music (scenes), it’s so easy to get lost and to lose your voice, and it’s even harder to try to find your voice. The fact that he’s been able to do that while creating a career out of it is beyond words,” he said.

Even more impressive, Marcel said, is the graciousness and humility of his friend, who supports his friends’ dreams as he chases his own.

“There’s enough for everybody,” Marcel said. “You completely and fully being you won’t take away from him being fully and completely him.”

‘I don’t think there’s a bigger honor’

Alexander’s debut album features collaborations with two musical giants.

The track “Stay” features the Grammy-winning guitarist Gary Clark Jr.

When Alexander was teaching himself guitar, he frequently watched videos of Clark, so being able to work with him is surreal, he told the Fort Worth Report last year.

Likewise “Déjà Vu” features another of his idols, legendary soul singer Mavis Staples, whom he opened for at the Paramount Theatre in Austin.

“I had the song that I wrote and I knew that Mavis’ voice needed to be on there, and she elevated the song in ways that I had never imagined could be done.” 

The first time Alexander and his team heard the song was during South by Southwest in Austin as they were driving to drop someone off, but as they listened to the song, they missed the stop and continued driving for another hour. 

“It was really insane,” he said. “She’s singing my words. I don’t think that there’s a bigger honor than someone that you respect and someone whose voice was part of the foundation in the civil rights (movement), in which people that look like me are able to have this freedom to express themselves, when that voice is on a record of yours it’s crazy.” 

Having the opportunity to share that experience, and his album, with others is a dream come true for Alexander. 

“I’ve been playing these songs, some of them, for years, and people have been asking me about them,” he said. “I’m excited for them to get this record in its entirety and for it not to just be mine anymore, but ours.”

Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at marcheta.fornoff@fortworthreport.org or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Marcheta FornoffArts & Culture Editor

For just over seven years Marcheta Fornoff performed the high wire act of producing a live morning news program on Minnesota Public Radio. She led a small, but nimble team to cover everything from politics...