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How do you stay strong and rise from a life of poverty? Dan Clark welcomes Alex Boye, a multicultural, multigenerational, global artist with over 1 billion Youtube views. Alex shares his life of poverty, parental abandonment, homelessness, rejection, and relentless tenacity. He had to endure seven humiliating failures in America’s Got Talent before winning. How did he do it? By embracing himself for who he is now. Alex believes that if we develop deep roots of self-love and self-belief when the wind comes, we’ll bend but never break. We need to love ourselves and shake off whatever crap life throws at us. Tune in!
Alex Boye Shares His Life Of Poverty And Rejection Before Relentless Tenacity Led Him To Current Success
This is an interview with multicultural dancer and superstar recording artist Alex Boyé. In this episode, my dear friend and brother from another mother, singer, songwriter, recording, artist, dancer, suicide prevention advocate, and humanitarian extraordinaire shares his life of poverty, parental abandonment, homelessness, continuous rejection, and obvious relentless tenacity to generate over one billion views of his music videos on his YouTube channel all while remaining true to himself, strong in his devotion to his God, and devoted as a doting father and amazing husband.
This episode could be the most important episode that I’ve had an opportunity to participate in, not just as a host but being interviewed by some of the greatest podcast hosts in the world, which highlights the significance of the questions being asked in every show. My goal, especially with my dear friend, hero, mentor and spiritual guide, Alex Boyé, is to ask the questions that you would want to have the answers to. Not having access to the superstar is accessible as he always is.
Still, when there are a few thousand folks in his cheering crowd at a live concert or someone as a concerned parent praying that Alex can help their young teenager decide not to hurt themselves, whatever the cause or case may be. I hope that I can ask the questions that we all need the answers to from Alex Boyé and his amazing life and journey. Most of you know that I was paralyzed playing football. What has happened since my recovery is a God thing.
Most of us have been raised to believe that things happen for a reason, but it’s my experience that it’s our responsibility to determine what that reason is. Therefore, I believe that Alex and I were brought together for a bigger reason than just him or me. The reason why he’s been able to fit me into his amazingly busy schedule to join us in the show is because the timing is right for some reason. I believe that when you finally download and subscribe to the show and look up this episode with Alex Boyé, it could possibly transform your life and take you from success to significance. I believe that about our conversation to come.
In a nutshell, you learned his bio for my intro. On a personal note, it’s fun for me to see someone who’s exactly the same offstage as they are onstage. It’s fun for me to see a superstar dancing as well as Michael Jackson, singing as well as Pavarotti, and doing everything you can possibly imagine as a singer, dancer, performer, and be the same in a movie theater when you see him with his eight kids. Of all the compliments that I could pay Alex Boyé, he doesn’t just talk the talk. He walks the walk. That’s so cliché.
What I want to say is he doesn’t practice what he preaches or sings about. He preaches and sings about only what he lives. The messages in his song Bend Not Break, the messages of his concert and his tour coincide perfectly in alignment with who he is as a human being. When he sings and talks, he doesn’t just teach what he knows. He teaches what he lives. He teaches what he has experienced and how he equates his life story, growing up in London, England, and being born to Nigerian parents. His mother was pregnant in Nigeria when she left.
His dad came to England, which means he never met his dad in those days. After he is born into the world, his mother decides that she’s going to go back to Nigeria for a couple of weeks, and then she never returns. Alex Boyé is more than just a self-made man. He had to figure out at an early age who he was, why he was, and what he was going to do about his purpose on Earth. I could read his nineteen-page bio and give you all the song credits, but we’d get right to the man first and start us exactly where you believe and inspired to begin with your life story that would apply to everybody who has to begin somewhere. Alex Boyé, ladies and gentlemen. My dear friend and mentor, I love you.
I love you too, Dan. Thank you so much. It’s such an honor to be here. When I’m thinking of the things that you’ve been saying, how I’ve turned out and how I’m still trying to turn out has come from so many mistakes and failures. There were so many times when I felt I was an absolute zero and nobody paid attention to me. I was homeless at the age of sixteen. When my mom moved back to Nigeria, she has only gone for three weeks, and I didn’t see her for over eight years. I got bitter at God and women. I had major commitment issues for years after that. Everyone was like, “Why are you still single?” If you can’t trust your mother, who can you trust?
I had to get over that. It took me a long time. Even the lady I’m married to, I don’t know how she stuck around. We got broke up three times because I got cold feet. I couldn’t do it. I needed therapy. Going back to that, I remember my mom when she first left. It was three weeks. I was counting down the days, 21 days. I remember I looked up in the sky and saw a plane. I’m like, “It’s going to be my mom soon.” When the three weeks came, I looked up at the sky, everything that moved, every plane and everything that had wings, “That’s going to be my mother,” and then it was 4, 5 and 6 weeks.
At that time, I was at boarding school. My mom apparently went to some doctor. I had flu or something like that. She took me to the doctor. This was in London where I was born and raised. She saw a little brochure. On the brochure, it was like, “Have your kid come here.” It was this beautiful building. It looked like something out of Downton Abbey. It was one of the poshest things ever. Apparently, it was like they would do an experiment. This is so crazy. You can make a movie out of this. They took people from the hood, single-parent families, divorced families, bad upbringings and stuff like that. They put us all in the school.
There was no hope for anyone that was chosen to go to the school. We were all from pretty bad parts of London. Where I grew up, there were bars on the doors and windows. When you think of London, you think of Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus. Not where I lived. It was a circus though. That’s what I grew up in. When I went to this boarding school, I was so excited. During the vacation times, I’d be with my mom. She put me with an uncle for three weeks for somewhere to stay because, during that time, I was on vacation from school. I kept looking up. She didn’t come after 6, 7, 8 and 9 months.
I thought, “That’s it.” I was way too young to think about figuring it out. My mind and brain shut it off. The Lord protected me and I looked for other things. My uncle was very abusive emotionally and sexually. I haven’t talked about this much. I’ve been seeing a therapist and she told me I need to start talking about it. He was also abusing me sexually. He passed me around to his friends. Every weekend, they would have parties. He’d make me go and get the alcohol and sometimes the drugs and the cigarettes.
I’ll be at home there. I’d be asleep, and people would come in. It was so weird because I had no memory of my life from 0 to 16 or 17. It always used to bug me. I remember I used to have people at school call me dumb because I couldn’t remember anything. They would give me a math equation and I’ll answer it. Two minutes later, I couldn’t even remember how I did it. I had this terrible memory and then you’ll try to be a singer. It’s hard to try to remember your songs. It’s so long and I always wondered why.
When I would visit this therapist of which someone had invited me to go, I thought, “Who are you to tell me I need a therapist?” I’m interested in the whole pride thing. In Africa, they try to say, “I can do them.” Even when I was there, it felt right. It was the weirdest thing. It was Johnny Hanna from Homie. He’s the CEO. He texted me out of the blue. He says, “Would you be interested in visiting someone?” I don’t even know what to call that but he blessed me. I respected him so much and I just turned out.
Long story short, she started talking about DNA and how our body stores everything. Every memory we’ve ever had, our body stores it. Even if we have forgotten, it is still there. She said, “My job is to help you remember.” She went through some exercises, and I saw what they were doing to me. It was very quick. It’s just a short glimpse but it lasts a lifetime.
I remember when I left off the visit, every time, the names of people would come. Some of them are my best friends I respected at boarding school. There was one time when I go, “This is all gobbledygook. This is woo-woo. This is not real.” One of the names that came up in my mind, I decided to send a message on Facebook. I said, “I know what you did.” He sent me a message back and said, “I am so sorry.” I was like, “It’s real.” My brain protected me all those years because it didn’t want me to remember.
You need to shake things off because there’s so much crap that happens to you.
Pain is a signal to grow, not to suffer. Once we learn the lesson the pain teaches us, the pain goes away. In life, there are no mistakes, only lessons. There’s an old saying. It’s an actual interview with a famous country crooner and songwriter, Waylon Jennings. Someone asked him, “You haven’t come out with any new hit songs lately. Why?” He says, “It’s because my marriage is going too good.”
We go in and laugh at stand-up comics and hear some of the greatest songs on the planet. If you have a chance to interview or meet superstar songwriters like you, you agree that most of the best songs start at a place of vulnerability, a place where we had to figure out something that began as pain and turned into triumph, that went from victim to victory.
There are people that can write and sing other people’s songs. Tina Turner never wrote, Whitney Houston and Tim McGraw, very rare. People write their songs because it’s personal and how they felt when they were writing them. I used to have an issue singing other people’s songs until I had this one experience with one of the guys from a group called the Nashville Tribute Band with Jason Deere.
He had written this song and said, “Alex, this is your song.” It was weird. It didn’t sound like me. Sometimes you hear them say, “I can do that,” because you know you’ve done it before. It was a whole different thing. I was like, “Not me.” With the passion that he said it with, I was like, “Maybe I should give this a chance.” I loved him and what he did. I thought, “Okay.”
It was simply a song about Jesus. I was like, “There are many other ways I would sing a song about Jesus, but this is not one of them.” I remember when I was in the studio. I said, “It was a song of pain. That’s what I could relate to.” I remember I asked him. I said, “Jason, do you have a picture of Jesus in the studio?” When I got on my knees, I sang the whole song. It’s one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had in my life.
Let’s cut back to your youth. You’ve found solace in music. When my dad died, I wrote him a letter. It was therapeutic. I’ve written hundreds and hundreds of songs that are so pathetic that I wouldn’t even share them with my mom. Every once in a while, you get a gift from the universe and know what they are. You got into music as a way of dealing and expression. Talk to us about that.
Music saved my life. Talk about clichés, but let me tell you why. During that time, I was going through this darkness. At the age of sixteen, I don’t know who my mom is. I’m blaming God and everyone. There was one time when I wanted to take my life. My goal was to go to a nightclub. It’s a nightclub that everyone talks about. It was the biggest thing in London that I had never been to. Everyone always talked about it. I decided I was going to go to this nightclub and get my dance on because I love dancing and that’s it. I’m out. I went to this nightclub.
Still, to this day, I don’t know how I got in. I’m 16 years old in a 21-and-over club. Trust me. I did not look like 21. I think I knew a friend who knew a friend. Anyway, I got in. I’m getting my dance. I’m crying my eyes out because I know what I’m about to do. As I’m about to leave, the DJ taps his microphone. He was like, “Is that Alex Boyé on the dance floor?” I’m like, “I’m sixteen years old. I don’t even know myself, let alone anybody who knows me.” I had not gone into singing or any of that stuff.
He said, “You guys don’t know it but one day, he’s going to be one of the biggest artists on the planet. Alex, I’m going to dedicate this song to you. Thanks for being here.” I’m standing on the dance floor like a statue. I was like, “What is going on here?” The song starts to play. The lyrics just jumped into my spirit and spoke to my soul. It was 10 years’ worth of therapy in 3 minutes and 58 seconds. It changed the whole trajectory of my life. I was leaping. I went in suicidal and came out of that nightclub with a mustard seed of hope.
That’s all I needed. Life didn’t change. It didn’t get any better, but that decision not to want to take my life to me was huge. Here I am now, having all these wonderful experiences, getting to hang out with power players like DC. It’s a beautiful experience. I always looked back at that and say, “Thank God.” I talked to another singer, Michael McLean. He was telling me about someone in his life. They would attempt to take their lives. He asked, “What made you change your mind? What would you tell someone who wants to take that life?” I said, “Tell him to wait five minutes.” There are so many stories of people who have five minutes of just a song that changed their lives.
The quote that comes to mind is, “Today, you’ve never been this old before. Today, you’ll never be this young again.” Right now matters, which means no matter what your past has been, you have a spotless future. It means you can’t always control what happens, but you can always control what happens next. Five minutes can turn into another five minutes until you finally come to your senses. How did your musical career start? Boy bands were not popular back in the day but somehow you figured out a way to start one. Talk to me.
As I told you, I loved dancing. I started off as a dancer before I did the missionary statement with The Church of Jesus Christ of The Latter-Day Saints. Before I did that, I was heavily into dance. I almost never went because I was so caught up. I always tell people I had one foot in Zion and one foot in Babylon. I was moonwalking in between the two. Finally, I left. That was a beautiful experience. I remember the last day of my missionary service. The mission president got me in his office and did the typical thing.
He will cheer you on and tell you, “Great job.” He gives you a hug and tells you to go home and get an edumacation, “Go get married.” As I was leaving, he called me. I turned back around and he motioned me to the table to sit again. His countenance was different. It wasn’t a typical goodbye or this thing. He just changed. The words he started sharing with me are different. He said, “I don’t usually do this but I would like to offer you an invitation if you’re up for it.” I was like, “Sure.” He says, “I feel inspired to tell you to consider pursuing music as a professional career.”
I was like, “What?” I just thought I was going to do more music but nothing like that. I look back at all the failures. That was the one thing that kept me when all of my friends had given up. All of my friends who sang, danced and had better songs than me were all doing other things and not chasing their dream anymore because their dream didn’t make sense. It was too hard or whatever. They go to raise a family.
It’s perseverance. Everybody says good things come to those who wait. I’m that Maverick Renegade who always challenges the status quo. Be patient. Patience allows us to never begin. Patience allows us to mindlessly wait our turn and believe this is meant to be. This is the hand I’ve been dealt. There’s nothing I can ever do to change it. Perseverance is the higher law. Perseverance is patience with a purpose, so we don’t mindlessly just wait our turn. We proactively take our turn because we know why we should.
Take us to your very first big national break. We’re talking about America’s Got Talent. Tell the story of how you had auditioned and the failure. Talk to us. Take us to the actual stage, the standing ovation from the judges. Everybody needs to google that. It will bring a tear to your eye and hope to your future. That mustard seed size of hope that if you have a dream to be a musician, author, disc jockey, sales professional, a mom or a dad, it’s all the same formula. Take us back to that experience.
Inspiration comes from everywhere.
Whatever it is that you want to be, however outlandish or crazy, there’s somebody that’s doing that. It must be real. It works. That’s what helped me look at it in that way. I remember the guy from the Shark Tank who owns the Mavericks. Everybody talks about being a billionaire or whatever it is, but what made it easy for him? He’s like, “Somebody has got to be a billionaire, so it might as well be me.” It’s that type of thing. I love that thing. Going back to America’s Got Talent, if I could, I’ll start backward. I get the standing ovation and the judges are going nuts. I was over the moon. It was an eighteen-piece band.
You were on your knees and weeping. You couldn’t believe what had happened.
I would never rehearse before. My band, most of them were from New York. I hired them from Juilliard because I thought, “If I’m going to make this work, I want to have the biggest amount of people on stage for a band.” I couldn’t afford to bring them all from Utah, so I sent a whole bunch of music to these cats from Juilliard. I had to pay them an insane amount of money. That’s what people do. Our first rehearsal was in the restroom downstairs because they wouldn’t give us a rehearsal room. We get on stage and it was amazing. It was that flow.
What was the hit song?
We did a Taylor Swift Shake It Off Africanized version. That was my life, shaking things off because there’s so much crap that happens to you. You got to shake it off, get up, dust it up and get back on again. I was crying when they gave me the four yeses. One of the reasons why I was crying was because I jumped off the stage into the splits. It hurt more than you could ever believe. They had to take me to the hospital afterward because my ankle was swollen. It was huge. I went down to the local ward in Manhattan for someone to give me a blessing. The next day, it healed and I was moonwalking again the next day. That’s the whole story.
After I did that, I was in tears. The reason why is I had a flashback of the seven times I had auditioned for America’s Got Talent. It was not even a whim. It was where the Lord said, “Go and audition for it.” I auditioned for it and it sucked. They didn’t like me. They didn’t even give me the time of day. That was the first time.
The second time is the same. I spent money I didn’t have that I should be spending on my kids. I got on a plane to Oklahoma with nobody. I don’t know anyone. I’m in the line for twelve hours. I go and do it again. It was nothing. I’m flying back home. I’m like, “Are you kidding? Heavenly Father, what is going on? This doesn’t make sense.”
Five more times. The time before the last, that was one that said, “I’m never going to sing again.” I went on that stage. This was when Sharon Osborne and Hasselhoff were the judges. I got booed off the stage. I remember looking into the audience and some guy was angry at me. I’ve never seen so much hate. He was pointing me off the stage.
What song did you sing?
I’m not even going to say that. I’m not brave enough to tell you. All of a sudden, everyone was doing this routine, “Off.” I’m like a scrappy monkey. Now I’m getting even worse, singing even more and louder. It was the most embarrassing thing ever. I had to stay there and get judged. One of them was like, “He is not ready.” Another one was Sharon Osborne. She was like, “It’s not for me. I like the way you dress though.” That was it. One of the judges said, “Here’s the thing. Maybe you should consider a career as a comedian because that performance was a joke.”
I went home and got back on the plane. I’m going to try and explain this to my wife after spending thousands of dollars on hotels, flights, food, everything. I’m there by myself. I get back home and I’m crying on my wife’s shoulder. I said, “Why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this?” I made a promise to myself I was never going to sing again. I was like, “I’m never going to allow myself to put myself in that situation where I’ll be humiliated.”
I was like, “Maybe I could try graphic design. I did a bit of architecture. I love architecture. I love graphic design. I could try that. I’ll go into that field.” It was my wife. I can’t believe what she said. She said, “Try again.” I said, “I love you, but are you high? I’m not going on that stage again.” She said something I’ll never forget. She said, “What lesson is that going to teach our kids?” Women sure know how to guilt shame us in loving ways.
They are the godsend of guilt, love and shame. It’s like, “Crap.” I booked another flight. It was the next one. That was in New York. I said, “This time, I’m going to go all out. I’m going to do this.” I got the four yeses. When you saw me crying, that was seven times failure. This is a good friend, Randy. I was looking at his post. He posted something on LinkedIn. It says, “Patience is bitter but its fruits are sweet.” It was by Aristotle. I thought, “Randy, you’re a beast. I love that.” That is what it was. The patience was bitter but the fruit on that stage was so sweet. It was the greatest feeling ever because it didn’t come easy.
What happened next?
A lot of doors opened for me. I found a manager, got an agent and things flowed more.
What was your first break? You’ve had over a billion views on social media. What was the very first music video that you recorded that escalated you to the next level after your national fame on America’s Got Talent?
If we develop deep roots of self-love and self-belief when the wind comes, we’ll bend but never break.
That was two. I did this cover of Frozen. When Frozen was huge, it was the biggest thing on the planet then. I was like, “Why don’t we try and do an African version of it?” I had a friend who was like, “Why don’t you Africanize it? It’s so cool.” Someone branded me and gave me a name. They said, “Can you Africanize this Taylor Swift song?” That was the coolest thing. I didn’t give myself that branding. They gave it to me and then I started using it. I did that. My kid was singing it over the top of her voice. I’m like, “There’s something here.”
I decided to get a whole bunch of choir. I did an African version of it. I then went to the ice castles. We had a whole group of incredible people. I got some singers like Lexi Walker who was this incredible singer. I heard her singing the national anthem at Real. It was a late game. She blew me away. She was twelve at the time. I was like, “What is this that’s coming out of her mouth? Not even a 30-year-old can sing that.” That was so powerful and just doing the African thing. We found the ice castles in Midway. There were so many things that made this thing work. All of a sudden, it was Good Morning America.
That’s when you started getting calls.
All these celebrities were sharing it with everybody. My phone was buzzing and it was nuts. Lexi Walker and I got offered a deal by Sony. The choir also got offered a deal by Sony. He decided not to take it. Looking back, it was a smart move for him and what he’s managed to accomplish in the control that he still had. I did one with The Piano Guys. That one went to the stratosphere.
My mom always used to tell me that I should use my African influence in my music. I always ignore that. I said, “Nobody listens to African music. I live in Utah. Nobody cares.” It wasn’t until I did that. It took two White dudes to call me up and ask me to sing in Swahili. I’m talking to The Piano Guys. It was like, “Can you do this in Swahili?” I’m like, “I’m the only Black guy in Utah. You ultimately pick a brother because we are Swahili.” We had so much fun with that.
He was like, “Will you try it?” I was like, “Okay.” I went to the library to get those Rosetta Stone tapes, trying to learn Swahili. I failed miserably. I called my mother in England. I said, “Please help me. Can you help me with the language?” We speak Yoruba. That’s our roots, which is a West African dialect from Nigeria. She taught me some Yoruba. It’s not Swahili. The Piano Guys wouldn’t know the difference.
I got all these different African languages and translated them from the Coldplay Paradise song. I sang in tons of different African languages. The coolest thing is in the end, I have this thing where it says, “Oluwa Adupe Fun Ore Ti E She Fun Wa.” I remember getting a message from a guy that says, “I’ve got to tell you, I am not a religious person. I am far from it. I don’t believe in God or anything like that but when I hear that song and that last part you sing, my heart leaped.” It’s so funny because the translation is, “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you so much for all the blessings that I asked you.”
All of a sudden, it hit me. I was like, “I could do more of this. I could sing from my heart religious music, and because they don’t understand it, they will feel the feeling that they would get. They bypass the bias. I couldn’t think that up. That’s a God thing. I cannot make that up. I’m not that smart to come up with that. It has changed my life. It’s still doing it.
It changed our lives, which is the perfect segue into your number one cause and mission. It’s your greater purpose than singing, dancing, and moving people through music. Tell us a little bit about that and introduce the song and the story behind the Randy Jackson experience with Bend Not Break.
I’ve been chasing this opportunity for the longest time and praying to the Lord for it. I just hadn’t seen it.
Seeing what? Getting involved in suicide prevention or launching a meaningful breakout song?
A meaningful song that focuses on mental health and suicide prevention. Nothing came and nothing made sense. Afterward, I started realizing. I have had this goal that I would be a musician for so long. What I noticed then was that all the musicians that I wanted to emulate had taken their lives. What am I chasing? I’m trying to be like them and they’re dead not from natural causes. I had to go back again to my sixteen-year-old experience in the nightclub. That was the day I chose to be an entertainer. Why? It’s because I saw that that artist, whoever sang that song the DJ played, saved my life. If I could do that now for somebody else, I’d be doing okay in life no matter what.
Focus on purpose instead of setting goals. If money is the motivator, money will eventually run out.
It was always that then. I’m going to be honest. I’m not going to lie to you. It was until I got to meet Mr. Randy Jackson from American Idol. My manager introduced me to him. They were friends. Randy owed him money, so he pulled the card and said, “You’ve got to help my man and you don’t have to worry about the debt.” How cool is that? I was in the studio with him but I thought that he was going to be there because he felt he had the obligation. We recorded fifteen songs. He was at the studio every session from beginning to end. I’m talking about one of the busiest people.
I couldn’t get my head around why this man was still here. He wasn’t signing me or anything. He didn’t have any motive to make money off me or anything like that. He just sat and kept encouraging me. The last song that we had done was about 11:00 at night. My voice was tired and everything. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and chill. I was going to get back on a plane. This was in Burbank, California, where we recorded the whole album at the hands of some studio where the Muppets were big as a building. You got Kermit the Frog heads coming out. It’s a 7-foot statue of Kermit the Frog.
We had finished and the album was done. I go to the restroom. Everybody was leaving. As I was in the restroom, it was like, “You need to go back and do another song.” Everybody’s tired. I had run back in and everyone is going home. Randy and the guy are getting Uber, the engineer, co-songwriter, and some of the band members. I said, “I am so sorry. I know that this is the weirdest timing but there’s another song. We’ve got to do another song.” At that point, I still didn’t know what. They were rolling their eyes like, “What?” I said, “I’m so sorry. Just one more. I beg of you. Can we stick around and do this one more song?”
Bless and save lives.
I remember Randy would say, “What is it about?” The co-songwriter was there. All of a sudden, it came. It downloaded. It was clear as a bell. I needed to write a song about suicide prevention. I needed to write the song that if I were to write it to a kid on a dance floor that wanted to take their life, it would make them change their mind.” I didn’t tell them my personal story because I wasn’t ready. My therapist has only started advising me to do it and it has changed my life. I didn’t know because we always hide stuff.
I said, “Let’s put it this way. I want you to imagine that you’re on the Golden Gate Bridge taking a nice walk under a beautiful moonlit sky. You see a guy. He’s on the edge of the bridge and is about to jump. You’re the only one that can save him. What would you say? That’s what I want to sing about.” One of the girls was like, “Before you go, can I ask you a question? When’s the last time you thought life is worth living? You may think there’s only one way out. Can’t see beyond the way you feel right now.”
We thought about the bamboo like a palm tree. When it bends in the wind, it can go through the biggest hurricane but it never breaks. You can have this huge oak tree that’s thicker than the size of the building. That hurricane can tip that thing over. That makes sense. I started learning that the roots are way deeper on a palm tree than on an oak tree. No matter what happens, if we develop deep roots of self-love, self-belief and all these things, when the wind comes, we’ll bend but we’ll never break. That’s, “If you bend and not break, at least not today.”
That’s why wait five minutes. It’s not waiting two years, and it’s all going to be better. Wait five minutes and it could change. That’s how this song came about. When we were going to release a single, I was getting all excited. I was like, “Randy, let’s release this song.” He’s like, “Nope.” “What about this one? This one’s so funny.” He’s like, “Nope.” I said three other ones. He was like, “Nope.” I was like, “What do you think?” He says, “You need to release Bend Not Break.” I’m like, “Isn’t that a depressing one? You want me to start off with that?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Seriously?”
I respected him but I was like, “You’re wrong this time.” He then said something to me that is manifesting itself. He looked at me in my eye and said, “Alex, if you put out this song as your first song, it will define your whole career.” I stand before you now doing these suicide prevention mega concerts. I call up cities and say, “Give me your biggest venue. I don’t want a high school because nobody cares. I don’t want theater because I’ve been doing that all my life. Give me your biggest venue.” They said, “This one seats 10,000.” I’m like, “Okay.” They were like, “What? Nobody even knows you. You can’t fill this place.” I’m like, “I know, but God can.”
We went to Nampa, Idaho. We did the Ford Theater. It was 10,000 capacity. Even the owners of the venues said, “You barely get about 2,000 people.” They were mistaken because I knew how many people had been affected by this. It is almost everyone you pass on the street. Years ago, it wasn’t like that. Has anyone been affected? Maybe 1 or 2 people in the room would put their hands up. Now, it’s everybody. I knew something that God told me that they didn’t know. I said, “You’ll be surprised.” Not only did people come, but they also had to extend this 2,000-seater place.
They took down the gates and barriers and everything because they wanted to make it look like 2,000 people had come that make it look like it was full. They took it all down. We had people come from all over. We had bishops of state prisons bringing a young man, woman, stuff like that. I had experienced writing this song called Survivor and singing this on stage. It’s a beautiful gift that I’ve only started using. It was available to me long before I’ve been using it. When I’m on the stage, there’s a voice within me. It will say, “Alex, go to the front, go left, point to that girl at the front. Get off the stage and put your hand on the shoulder of that old lady.”
I got messages back. The old lady wrote a message, “I wanted to take my life that night. I also looked for a sign, someone that can put their hand on my shoulder, telling me they love me.” I put my hand on her shoulder and told her I loved her. Tell me how excited you would be to get on stage again. This is bigger than me now. That’s what I have been waiting for. All the people that I want it to be like are dead. I have to find something else, and because this is bigger than me, I know I can stick to it. I know I can stay on this thing through the highs and lows because there is always that one underlying message, to bless and save lives.
Every time I’ve had the privilege of sharing the program with you, you rise above the stage performance of singing and dancing. The commentary in between the songs even when it’s not a suicide prevention mega-concert or when it’s just Alex Boyé in concert, what you are able to talk about, say and share from your heart in between the songs that set up the next song is something that sets you apart from most artists that I’ve ever met.
I got that from Garth Brooks.
That matters. To pursue our careers, we have to focus, sacrifice, and spend time away from our families. We have to understand that everything that we want requires that we give up something that we had. Otherwise, we couldn’t get it. There are only so many hours in a day and things we can do. Share some secret sauce on how you’ve been able to keep that family and God balanced while you have adoring fans and you’re on the road. We all know the road warrior world takes its toll, and you’ve stayed above afloat. Teach us the secret sauce if you have some advice, a story or some ways that we all can tune into what you do to keep everything in perspective.
To be honest, I don’t know the answer to that question. I don’t know the balance. I’ve never had a balance. I don’t know how to do it. One thing that I’ve noticed is that I’ve prayed to ask the Lord to help give me glimpses. I remember talking to Tim Ballard of OUR. He was asked, “How do you have that balance?” He said, “God has given me this ability through all my work that when I’m at home and I can only spend 15 minutes of 4 or 5 hours with my kid. That 15 minutes, I turn it into two months worth of attention.”
It’s been so powerful. I’m talking to my therapist. She talked to me about an interesting thing because I talked about struggling. With my wife, I felt like I’m distancing myself from her. I’m focusing so much on the music. Music became my mistress. I felt like I was cheating on my wife. I was like, “That was the most important thing.” I was like, “I’ve got to figure this out. It’s not working.”
My therapist has said, “You’ve got to treat her like her friends treat her.” I’m like, “What?” When your friend unloads on you with all the crap they’re going through that day, if you’re the spouse, you’re like, “Here we go again.” If you’re the friend, you’re like, “How did that feel like? I can’t imagine you cooking again. When it’s clean, then it’s happening again. That must be so monotonous and annoying. I’m so sorry. I can’t relate that much.” I started doing that. That simple thing where I was replying and repeating what she had said kept me off the couch. I was like, “What is that? This feels amazing. Is that what that is?”
You reminded me about something that I love to ask my audience, especially when there are so many working women in the audience who say, “How many of you are good at multi-tasking?” Everybody raises their hand. I say, “You admitted publicly that you’re lousy at a lot of things.” I said, “What would happen if you started thinking like a juggler?” A juggler only controls the ball in her hand. Once she lets go of the ball, she has relinquished control. Why worry about it and only deal with the ball in your hands when you have eight kids? It’s 15 minutes of 2 months of time. You itemize the number of minutes that we spend in real conversations and add them up.
I can be home but I’m still not home.
Don’t wait until you get there for you to be happy. Find ways to be happy now.
Alcoholism is workaholism. You’re still not present in the moment. How powerful is music to set up that listening environment that escapes from the world and focus on your spouse and kids, especially the ones who need you right this minute?
In America’s Got Talent, the artist that came up before me had this table and those plates. I looked at him and I was like, “Which is the plate that he focuses on more?”
It’s the one that’s about ready to drop.
It was so funny because even the Lord was teaching me something as I was so nervous and scared. I just focused on this guy backstage, looking at who I’m coming off those. It took my mind off it. The Lord showed me a precept that didn’t make sense until I start it. You’re talking about it now. You use it so many times because it was a personal experience. I saw it. He would run to the one that was about to drop, and then he’d go back, come again, and then the next one. When I started doing that with my kids, it’s been such a blessing. It’s not going to be perfect. It never is. That’s the other thing too.
We have this perfectionism syndrome. Once we have that, we are never going to be satisfied ever. It’s being satisfied where you are or being satisfied when you get it. When you get it, it’s not enough. Remember that cartoon where you used to watch Bugs Bunny. I remember when I was almost five, they did this thing. It was cruel. He had a carrot. He tied it on a stick around Bugs Bunny’s head. Bugs Bunny kept chasing the carrot but he was never quite got it. He kept running and running. It was the most frustrating thing. Sometimes we do that with our lives.
I used to do that with music too. I was like, “When I get my first hit on the radio, then we’re good. I’m going to be happy. I get it. If I get to one of that major TV shows or America’s Got Talent, then I’ve made it. I’ve arrived. I get it.” You’ve said it so many times, “Enjoy the journey.” I started saying, “Don’t wait until you get there for you to be happy. Find ways to be happy now. When you get there, it’s another one and another one.”
I learned something so powerful, singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for eight years. We went on a tour. We did New York and all that area. We performed at Carnegie Hall, and I got a chance to do a solo. It was the coolest thing ever. We’re in the first rehearsal after we have finished the tour. We get back home, Mack Wilberg gets up and we’re all patting ourselves on the back. I’m feeling good and everything. He’s like, “Next rehearsal. We got your books.” We’re like, “What?” It was like a running train and the train kept going. It didn’t stop long enough to gloat or celebrate what you did.
It’s like, “Now we got music and spoken word in four days. Let’s go.” It taught me something cool. It was like, “Alex, don’t sit.” That’s why you have a whole bunch of one-hit wonders. They have one hit. You wonder where they are because they focused on that one hit. All of a sudden, they think they’re famous. When that song was floated out of existence, what else have you got? When you have someone like Michael Jackson, Prince or Taylor Swift that have a hit, next. It’s our mindset. Most people’s mindset is, “When I get there, I’m done.” Other people’s mindset is, “When I get there, it means I’m closer to where I want to get. I will keep going.” It’s been a great lesson for me.
In the music industry, everybody can write their first album. The second album is tough, so what are you going to come up with next? As we wind down, where do you want to be five years from now?
I want to be the same person I am now on steroids. What I’m saying is that even through my imperfections, weaknesses, mistakes, and all that kind of stuff, I like myself. I didn’t before. I could not say that, even maybe a few years ago. I like myself.
You have to like yourself first before you can like others. You have to love yourself first before you can love others. You have to first trust your gut and intuition before you can trust someone else.
I’m in love with myself. Sometimes people are like, “Look at him. He thinks he’s God’s gift to the Earth.” Yes, I am, and so are you. We are all God’s gift. It’s beautiful, noble and great. That’s what it says in Abraham. When was the last time we looked in the mirror and caught ourselves noble and great? Why is it that the only people allowed to call themselves great are Muhammad Ali and Kanye West? That’s not bragging. I called it confidence. It’s being okay with who you are and where you’re at now, knowing you still got a long way to go. That’s all right.
As we wind up our conversation, what you’ve reminded the world is we don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are. You and I are in a room full of people, looking out the same glass window at the same lashing rainstorm. One person says, “What a horrible day.” You say, “What a wonderful day.” The weather did not change. When we work on ourselves, pursue that dream, and surround ourselves with people who believe in us, who ignite that one five minutes required to change our mind to stop looking at the negative, “Woe me,” and start looking at the positive.
You’ve also reminded us, with all due respect to Covey, beginning with the end in mind is a limiting belief because what it does is it forces us to focus on a destination that’s impressive, comparing ourselves to the world, which forces us in a predicament where we do our best to manage people and reward results. One-hit-wonder. What you reminded me is the goal now is to begin with the why in mind, which inspires us to enjoy the journey. We manage expectations and reward effort. There’s never a destination.
We’re always on the journey, trying to be better today than we were yesterday. That’s what you’ve done to me in our friendship. It’s what you do with your music and your concerts. How can people download your music? How can we find you on social media? I would assume that you published your tour dates.
I’ve been on the program with Alex many times. I’ve also been in his audience, watching him work his magic. Trust me, ladies and gentlemen. You’re in for an experience, not just a concert. It’s an experience that is an evening of music, comedy, motivational theater, and spiritual guidance. You will all leave saying, “I like myself best when I’m with Alex Boyé. I can’t wait to see him again.” Tell us how we get ahold of you.
Like yourself with your weaknesses and imperfections.
My Instagram is @AlexBoyeOfficial. Look for me on all those. I’ve got a Spotify brand and YouTube, Alex Boyé. Hopefully, you’ll have some fun while you are checking out some music and feel good about it.
As I said, he can breakdance, moonwalk and do it all. He brings back to the stage all the things that we loved from multiple artists. You seem to be able to package it all into one performance. I honor you for that. I appreciate you so much as a man of God, family, community and music. The smartest people in the world that I know are songwriters and musicians because they could look in a blue cloud in the sky and see a buffalo. They’re like, “Let’s write a song about that.”
What’s your message to the world? If you have one hour to live, what do you want to say that will help all of us become power players? Everything you’ve taught us is how to get in tune to ignite and release our own personal power to become everything we were born to be regardless of what anybody else around us is doing.
When you have one hour to live, you don’t want to compare yourself to anyone else. That’s it for me. It’s embracing yourself, who you are, and wherever you are now.
It’s finding the right role model who is not dead, not physically. They might be spiritually or emotionally dead. When you lose your dreams, you die. That’s why we have so many people walking in the halls of life that were dead, and they don’t even know it yet. You need to get in touch with your soul.
There’s that scripture where it says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Have a vision for your life for who you want to be. It’s not where you want to go in life. It’s more important who you are than what you’ve accomplished. You accomplish a lot more once you know who you are. It’s finding out who you are.
You attract not who you want in your life. You attract who you are. Ladies and gentlemen, the famous, amazing, spiritual, and humble Alex Boyé. I hope you’ll encourage your friends not just to download this episode and subscribe to the show but to know why this show exists, focusing on doing what we need to do, to interview the right people at the right time who can say something and speak to your heart, to give you whatever you need at that moment to take it to the next level. There’s no one better on the planet to help us do that than Alex Boyé. I love you. You know that. I love this man. Thanks for joining us. This was a treat. You rose above expectations and delivered everything. I knew you were going to deliver more. Thanks. God bless you.
About Alex Boye
Alex Boyé is truly a multicultural, multigenerational, global artist! With over 1 billion views on his YouTube channel, Boyé’s diverse blend of African-infused pop music and vibrant dynamic visuals have captured a loyal legion of online followers turning him into a viral sensation!