Alex Noelle and her music have a unique quality. Noelle impresses with beautiful melodies and storytelling in her lyrics. Noelle’s sound stands out as something different in Nashville, but that works to her advantage. If you see Alex playing at a writer’s night, it will be memorable. The singer-songwriter also uses music to help others in her job as a music therapist. Undiscovered Nashville has been following Noelle’s music for almost two years, and it is long overdue to introduce her to our readers. Please keep reading to learn more about the self-described music nerd and discover why we feel she is unique.
New Jersey to Philadelphia to Nashville
Alex Noelle spent her childhood in New Jersey, where she honed her skills as a musician and a songwriter. Noelle said, “My family has always had a musical influence. I have played piano and percussion since I was eight years old, and I have been singing forever. I spent all my time in musical theatre, band, choir, dance, and anything music-related in high school. However, in my teenage years, my involvement with music took a turn. I began using music as a way to process what I was feeling. I dealt with a lot of loss of people close to me. There was also the mental illness of other people that I loved and myself. So, I relied on music to help me get through it.”
Music has a way of healing or opening our minds to deal with emotions we suppress. Noelle’s experience of relying on music would lead to a tough choice on where to go to college. The singer-songwriter said, “My whole life, I had made music, and also been invested in wellness, mental health, and emotions. I was torn on what to do, and I hesitantly turned down a spot in Belmont’s commercial performance program. Instead, I chose to attend Temple University in Philadelphia to study music therapy. After five years in Philly, I moved to Nashville, where I thought I would become a music therapist, but I would keep singing.”
As someone who doesn’t write country music, Alex Noelle has embraced her time in Nashville as a learning experience. Noelle said, “Nashville is an amazing place to learn and grow because you can mingle with people in the industry at every bar in town. It has been incredibly eye-opening. Everyone is a musician. Anything you need is here: producers, sound engineers, photographers, videographers, etc. Pop music isn’t at the forefront in Nashville, but I don’t think I am entirely pop. My latest single, Ludlow, is the most pop song I’ve released. I may find a place more suited to my genre, but I feel like I am going to school right now to learn how to be an artist.”
Alex Noelle, Music Therapist
One of the unique things about Alex Noelle is that she not only writes music for herself, but she uses music to help others. While I have always thought music was therapy, I never knew music therapy was a career option. Noelle explained, “Music Therapy as a field is only sixty to seventy years old, and we are still growing our research base. We use musical experiences to target and treat health goals. Music therapists treat autism, PTSD, depression, anxiety, and even Alzheimer’s. When you think about it, music is a way to stimulate your brain, so it’s good for development. It is also emotional; therefore, music can help expression and emotional processing.”
Every time I listen to music, I immediately am searching for how I relate to the lyrics. As a music fan, I love music that speaks to my emotions. The singer-songwriter helps us understand how music therapy can be beneficial. Noelle said, “One of the benefits of using music in therapy is that it’s non-invasive. Someone can listen to something and feel safe to express themselves. They don’t have to say out loud what is happening. Music becomes an extra channel for processing things, and you don’t have to look in someone’s eye and identify every troubling thing.”
Noelle hit on something that many of us have experienced while listening to a song. Noelle asked, “Have you ever started listening to a song you have never heard before, and within a minute, you are crying?” Alex continued, “A song sneaks in there and hits something inside you. Music chips away at that block of ice you are carrying. When I was experiencing loss in my life, I started writing lyrics. Playing classical piano was my go-to, and when I was playing, I thought it was a bunch of notes. However, I would realize how heavy a mood is, but that was inside me.”
The Challenges of Songwriting
Vulnerability, authenticity, and writing songs that will sell are challenges facing every singer-songwriter in Nashville. Many songwriters were driven by emotion when they began writing their first songs. Alex Noelle describes the pressures of being a songwriter in Nashville. Noelle said, “What started us writing can get a little lost in Nashville because we feel the pressures of selling our music. You want it to sell, you want to be catchy, but if you lose track of the magic and personal expression in your music, then why sell it? It is a constant challenge to balance authenticity and sellability.”
Most songs in Nashville start with a title or a hook, but Alex Noelle’s songwriting is different. The singer-songwriter said, “Both my strength and flaw as a songwriter are I am very genuine and literal. I don’t always have a catchy title or a fancy metaphor. I hope my cleverness comes through in my musicality, but my words are usually straightforward.”
Alex Noelle Live!
What is it like at an Alex Noelle live show? As someone who has seen Alex perform several times, I am always blown away by her vocals. Since moving to Nashville, she has worked hard to put together an excellent full band show, pre-covid. Noelle said, “I’ve started to blossom with my live show with a band. The first band I had available to me when I lived in New Jersey was a punk band. But I love punk drumming, so there is always an element of that in my shows. I love heavy percussion, while my voice is more gentle and pure-toned. I am a big music nerd, so I never want to lose the magic of live instruments and create the music you hear.”
Noelle has been a part of a few memorable performances in her life. The singer-songwriter said, “during college, my acapella group performed at the White House, and my choir performed at the Lincoln Center in Philadelphia. I got to be part of the choir singing the live soundtrack behind The Lord of the Rings. We sang while the movie was playing. My favorite performance since moving to Nashville was International Women’s Day at The Parthenon. They asked me to sing several songs with a lineup of speakers, poets, and dancers. The acoustics in the Parthenon are amazing.”
Alex Noelle releases her latest single, “Ludlow”
Noelle’s latest single, “Ludlow,” was released on October 16th. Also, she released a music video on November 13th to accompany the single. When I first listened to the song, I had to ask Alex where the title came from. Noelle said, “I just write the song and sing it; I sometimes struggle with what to title a song. I named the song “Ludlow,” because it’s a unique word. But, it is in the first line of the song.”
So what is the story behind the song? The singer-songwriter said, “The person I wrote the song about was solid. You could even understand why they ended the relationship, so you can’t even hate them. Even as I started to get over them, it was still there. I equate these memories being stuck in my head like a song that’s stuck in your head. But I don’t want it anymore. So, I wanted to write a song that I can dance to while I wallow. Ludlow is the street in New York, where I met somebody I am trying to forget, but I can’t. So, I am just going to dance instead.”
Fun Facts with Alex Noelle
Alex Noelle is a unique person and someone who I enjoyed learning more about. I wish I could have done this interview as a podcast because we covered so much ground. Asking someone to tell me some fun things about them is probably the most challenging part of the interview for an artist to share some fun facts about themselves. Noelle said, “I was a girl scout my entire childhood until I was eighteen. I’ve gone skydiving, bungee jumping, and scuba diving all in the same five weeks when I studied abroad in Australia and New Zealand. I am a vegan, and I am passionate about the environment. I am also a sugar addict; you will find me at every bakery in town.”
Whether you see Alex Noelle performing around town or at the bakery, one thing is sure; Alex will have a smile on her face because she is doing something she loves. Give Ludlow a listen and watch the music video. Follow Alex Noelle on social media and streaming platforms. Click to listen to her music on Apple Music or Spotify.