Rising teen music star plays Eugene.
What were you doing when you were 14?
Chances are you didn't sign a record deal. But then you didn't have a voice as sweet as syrup with a range as rich as a rainbow, did you?
A home-schooled girl with straight reddish-brown hair. A singing prodigy. A songwriter.
A rising superstar in the world of country-pop music.
She performs with her band at Luna in downtown Eugene tonight.
"It's a God-given gift, I'm sure," said Alexis Ebert of Albany. After all, no one in her family sings. Not her father, Dave, a hard-rock lover. Not her mother, Cheryl, a makeup artist. Not her younger brother, Edison. He just makes her laugh.
"Nobody can explain it," she said, holding her guitar on her lap Thursday at Blackberry Hills Studio off Lorane Highway southwest of Eugene. "But it feels amazing. I always kind of knew it was going to happen, it's a deep feeling. I just knew."
She goes strictly by her first name as a performer. "I do like my last name," she said. "But (Alexis) is just kind of an identity."
The family was concerned for privacy reasons about her using her last name when she started performing at age 6, said her mother, Cheryl Ebert. "That's not my reason, though," Alexis said with a laugh. "I just like it. It's like Cher or Madonna."
Alexis signed a record deal with Warner Bros. last year and her CD, "You Gotta Believe," is due out next year. She's already recorded the 12 songs for the disc, including 10 that she either wrote herself or co-wrote in Nashville.
She starting singing when she was 2, started performing at county fairs when she was 6 and took her first trip to Nashville to meet the legendary Chet Atkins when she was just 8.
She sang for President Bill Clinton in Portland that same year. She's performed at shows with the likes of her idol Reba McEntire, Keith Urban, LeAnn Rimes and Randy Travis. She performed at the Oregon Jamboree in Sweet Home a couple of weeks ago. Her song, "The Real Me," is part of the sound track on the 2003 film, "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen," and she got to walk the red carpet at the film's premiere in New York City.
Tonight's performance is a chance for Alexis to introduce herself to her native Oregonians, said Peter Thomas, one of her managers. Those who come will have a chance to participate in the musical performance, as well as a video session. That's all we can tell you. You'll have to show up to find out the rest.
Alexis will also perform next Thursday at the Lane County Fair.
The only explanation she can give for her rare talent and her love for country music is that she used to watch videos on the Country Music Television channel with her Aunt Linda.
The next thing she knew, she was singing Dolly Parton songs.
Then one night, when she was about 6, she was watching the Country Music Awards. As performers strode to the stage to accept their awards, Alexis asked her mother: "How am I gonna know how to get my award?" Mom's reply: "Well, if you ever make it that far, they'll tell you how."
That was the same year, 1996, that Alexis performed for the first time in front of others, at the Pizza King in Albany. It was karaoke night and Alexis was dressed as Pocahontas. She was also nervous. But she sang "Colors of the Wind" and has been performing ever since. And the nerves just faded away.
The first song she ever wrote was, "The Daddy Song," for, you guessed it, her daddy. She was 6 when she did that, too.
"He would tuck her in every night when she was a little girl/And tell her stories about being his whole world."
Nowadays, her songs are bit more layered. They have more depth, such as her favorite, "Free World," which goes something like this:
"I've been down to the city/ Saw a little baby on the street ...She's just doin' her time in the free world ... cell phones ringin', car horns screamin' ...We're gonna break these chains/Ain't no crime, just doin' her time in the free world."
The song is about homelessness and the vast divide between the classes in American society. "You just see a lot of homeless people everywhere and you feel really bad for them," Alexis said.
She not only wants to record No. 1 hits and sell lots of albums, she wants to have concert benefits and raise money for charities. And if she gets the chance to sing for another president, she won't pass it up.
"Now, I really want to sing for Bush," she said. "It would be fun to sing for all the presidents who come along. And maybe a queen."
Where: Luna, 30 E. Broadway, Eugene
When: 8:30 p.m.
Alexis Ebert, 14, has already signed a Nashville recording contract. Alexis' first CD, "You Gotta Believe," is due out next year.