PARKERSBURG - Country music singer/songwriter Dean Alexander, a Parkersburg native, has the material to write songs.
He has faced enough tragedies and troubles in his life to fill several CDs. And now he can write about overcoming the roadblocks life has thrown his way.
In 1995, Alexander's parents, Samuel Dean and Darlene Alexander, were killed in car crashes five months apart. Dean was 13 years old at the time and living in Tuppers Plains, Ohio.
Parkersburg native Dean Alexander, now based in Nashville, has a busy country music performance schedule this year.
After his parents' deaths, Alexander went to live with his grandparents in Parkersburg. His grandfather was a preacher with an "old-school Christian background," Alexander said this week while waiting to go on stage at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.
"He didn't like secular music," Alexander said of his grandfather.
One night, Alexander's grandfather heard him playing the guitar in a nearby bar. Alexander said he liked to play country and rock on his guitar and would climb out his window late at night to play at the bar.
Alexander in Free Concert
* When: Tonight at 6:30 p.m.
* Live on the Levee, sponsored by the city of Charleston
* Where: Haddad Riverfront Park along the Kanawha River
Alexander said his grandfather entered the bar and told him to pack up and leave his home. Alexander was 17 years old.
"He had his morals and beliefs," Alexander said of his grandfather.
For several years afterward, Alexander said, he slept on the couches of friends and worked "side jobs" while playing the guitar in several states.
At the age of 20, "a voice woke me up and said go to Nashville," Alexander said. Alexander worked in construction and built guitars at Gibson Guitar in Nashville, while playing the guitar and singing in Lower Broadway clubs and bars.
Alexander said he was doing landscaping work in the yard of Barbara Orbison, the widow of music legend Roy Orbison and the owner of a publishing company, when she asked him what he really did for a living.
After Alexander provided a demo CD and an audition, Orbison offered Alexander a publishing deal that led to him signing with Warner Bros. Nashville, he said.
Alexander's first single, "Live A Little," which was recently released, is described on his website as "a hook-filled celebration of life; an up-tempo call to seize the day... something Dean's life has more than qualified him to share about."
With all the ups and downs in his life, Alexander, 31, offered the following advice: "Make the most of life."
Alexander said he and his four-member band have been on the road performing in 70 cities over the past 10 weeks.
Alexander is playing at Live on the Levee at Haddad Riverfront Park in Charleston at 6:30 tonight.
One of the highlights in his life has been opening three times for performances by singer/songwriter/actor Dwight Yoakam, one of his country music heroes.
Alexander said his heart is in country music with an influence of soul music. His mother loved country music while his father enjoyed soul music and some rock 'n' roll, he said.
Rick Modesitt & Associates Inc. of Parkersburg has booked two performances for Alexander and has enjoyed working with the singer/songwriter from Parkersburg.
"Dean first came on our radar last year as an act who was from West Virginia ... that was going to have a new national single release. As the music industry goes ... it was delayed and delayed and delayed ... and was just recently released in July," said RMA President Rick Modesitt.
"His single has gained some traction as a new up and coming artist. We had the opportunity to book him for a show in Virginia and he was great to work with ... just a super nice guy. As his name becomes more well known, then he will certainly be in larger demand," Modesitt said in an email.
Alexander has no intention of ever leaving Nashville.
"I'll die there. I love that place," he said.