XENIA — She made it to the live show on American Idol and has played in front of reps from record labels in Nashville.
But Wright State University and Centerville High School alum Alexis Gomez is at her happiest when she’s on an area stage mixing it up with the crowd.
“I just love doing things that are part of the community,” she said while home from Nashville for a few days. “Obviously I dream of playing those big arenas one day, but there’s definitely a special thing in my heart for playing in my hometown. Those are the people who came to my shows when there was only five, 10, 15 people in the audience and there’s always going to have this special feeling about knowing those people supported me. I love taking every opportunity I can to be a part of this community.”
That’s why she’s making an appearance at Xenia’s Hometown Christmas Saturday, Nov. 25 at Shawnee Park —her last Dayton show of 2017.
“Christmas is my favorite time of year,” she said. “To get to go out and sing songs, I know it sounds silly, but it really does bring joy to the people when they hear you singing and they sing along. I think that’s what keeps you grounded and it keeps you good at what you do because there’s a difference between performing on a huge stage and there’s a difference between having that intimate connection when its just you and your guitar and especially things like this Christmas show, it allows me to get real with the audience and have that close face-to-face and not that giant separation of the elevation of the stage.”
Gomez, 25, is also looking forward to Hometown Christmas for another reason. It’ll be her first Christmas show with her full band — which includes Xenia native Joel Arnett — not just her and a guitar.
“We’re going to take it full Christmas mode,” Gomez said as her face lit up. “We’re going to turn Christmas country for a little bit. I think it’s just going to be so much fun. This will be really fun for us. The jingle bells, everything. I’m totally excited. I can’t wait for everybody to see what we’re working on.”
Gomez’s excitement for the show is genuine. While many celebrities put on a facade when the camera is on, Gomez is the same person when she is on stage or back home in Centerville. That, along with discovering her musical identity are traits that were reinforced during her appearance on season 14 of Idol.
“The biggest thing that I took away, No. 1 is to know who you are as an artist,” she said. “I found out that the months following Idol is when I really really figured out who I was as an artist, and I think also at the same time another thing I learned from the show and took away is you have be relateable and genuine. I’ve always known that. Its so hard to connect with people when you’re on TV, when you’re on a stage. That’s why I can take every single chance I get to get face-to-face. If someone comments on my Facebook, I make sure I go back and reply to each and every person. You have to be relateable and genuine.”
Gomez also got a pep talk from one of her judges, Harry Connick Jr. Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban were the other two.
“(Connick Jr.) was the one that came up to me after I got eliminated and spent a good five, 10 minutes just talking to me, giving me advice after the show,” she said. “It showed such good character.”
Gomez finished among the top eight women. And while she wanted to win, she said is not disappointed in her finish.
“I remember, even the very first round, I remember telling my dad, ‘If I could just make it to Hollywood.’ And then I made it to Hollywood,” Gomez said. “OK if I could just make it to the House of Blues. OK if I could just make it to the top 24. OK, if I could just make it to the live show. And I literally, every single week that I got though, it was like, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ “
While Idol helped Gomez get her name “out there,” she’s still working tirelessly to get her big break. She lives in Nashville and can be found spending four or five hours a day in writing sessions, and countless hours networking, searching online, and walking into meetings to get her name and face into as many places as she can. She does substitute teaching at Centerville High School when she’s home, and babysits and performs other odd jobs as well.
“I’m still a starving artist,” she said. You do what you’ve got to do.”
She also has a modeling contract in Nashville that has helped her get into a Hardee’s commercial and a small part in a music video of a new song from country singer Tracy Lawrence, a star in the 1990s who is making a comeback.
Despite being on the cusp of bigger things, Gomez manages to stay true to herself. That explains her love of all things local, and why she will be seen barefoot on stage.
“Ever since I was little, I’ve run barefoot,” she said. “When I’m on stage I want to be as comfortable and as me as I can be and it’s always been barefoot. Some days I want to wear makeup. Some days I don’t. That’s what regular people are. I’m never going to change that about me.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.