Alexa Rose was born in the Alleghany Highlands of western Virginia, raised in the tiny railroad town of Clifton Forge. Though no one in her immediate family played or sang, she inherited a deep musical legacy.
“Growing up I would hear stories of my great-grandfather Alvie who, for a time, lived and played with [bluegrass great] Lester Flatt when they were both young men,” says Rose. “Apparently, Lester tried to get him to move to Nashville and pursue a career. But my great-grandfather decided to stay in the mountains with his wife on their farm.”
That sense of place and storytelling spirit became woven into Rose’s voice and songwriting. In 2019, she released her debut album Medicine For Living, the title track of which won Merlefest’s revered Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. Her 2021 follow up Headwaters garnered national attention from American Songwriter and Rolling Stone, among others. Rose wrote most of the album in the early stages of the pandemic, which she astutely characterizes as having “that weird lucid feeling of not-time.”
“Headwaters are the source of a river. The furthest point from where water merges with something else. They are not mighty. Just a network of small tributaries, like a creek, not necessarily picturesque, but they’re the most important part of the river. Water is fluid and inconsistent and sacred and indifferent. You can be miles down a river, but you’re still at the origin. And in that way, water feels like it has transcended time. That’s how these songs found me—the same way memories do, in that slivering, elusive water. As quickly as you come across them, you bend in another direction.”
Perhaps following in the steps of her great grandfather, Rose’s songs feel like oil paint landscapes of her own life in the mountains, often wringing out the beauty in mundanity and exploring timeless topics. Her earnest, well crafted stylings are a multi-layered merger of old country music and traditional folk songs, colored by rock and roll and mountain soul.