Listening to music with Alex Collier is different than just listening to music--the better kind of different.
He draws attention to the beauty of composition. He'll point to the speaker, warn "The good part's coming up," raise the volume, and the lucky listener is introduced to a swell of some instrument they would otherwise miss. You notice movie scores after watching movies with Alex, because, during, he plays the air piano.
And sometimes on those movies, or on a commercial, Alex may have actually composed the track, like in Swing Vote, Welcome to the Rileys, and Up in the Air. Commercial compositions include those for Southwest, Bentley, and Nature Valley. "I write and co-compose with my best friend, which is so lovely to stay aware and progressive," he says.
Along with his business partner--they've worked together since high school--Josh Smoak, Alex started Sunday Entertainment, a music house with its office on Broad Street. They also do business in L.A. and in Nashville. Their talents include original composing, a music library and licensing. They realize Charleston may not be the best location for their talents, but it's home.
"Being in Charleston alone makes me extremely brave. Charleston is not a big ad, TV and film city, so most of my business is done elsewhere. Hopefully that will change with time. If it doesn’t change, life for me as a composer will still continue on. Charleston fuels my creativity. Hopefully that will never change."
While a band major at the Charleston County School of the Arts playing the trumpet, Alex decided he wanted to learn to play the pipe organ. He was a self-taught piano player, so tried the same with the organ, but eventually was mentored by Charlton Singleton and Mark Thomas. For 12 years, Alex played the organ most Sundays and special events at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist.
Only once did he accidentally break into the Wedding March at a funeral, and hear his brother say, "Uh oh," from the congregation.
Sunday Ent also manages bands like Heyrocco, and Alex now tours with a band that he initially started managing, The Weeks, but then joined on keys once picked up by the label Serpents and Snakes. They open worldwide for the Kings of Leon, at the Manchester Arena in the U.K. and the Lanxess Arena in Germany.
This city is lucky to have a talent like Alex Collier. And he’s lucky to have it.
"I travel a lot and take Charleston with me everywhere."
Words by: Elizabeth Bowers
Photography by: Mark Stetler