Interlochen Presents June 2014

Crescendo issue: June 2014
  • Mandy Alexander, Opening for Sheryl Crow June 13
It all begins with Sheryl Crow.

Crow hits the Kresge stage on June 13. From there, the month of June offers up some thrilling concerts including the first wave of guest artist performances followed by daily staff and student performances. Included in that wave are Gordon Lightfoot on June 18, Lynyrd Skynyrd on the 19th, alumna Betty Who on the 23rd, the U.S. Air Force Airmen of Note's free performance on the 25th, Rioult Dance on the 26th, "The Tempest," which runs from the 26th through the 28th and then again July 2, 3, and 5, Tigran Hamasyan on the 27th, the World Youth Symphony Orchestra's 2014 premiere performance on the 29th, and Bonnie Raitt on the 30th.

There is no doubt that June is an electric launching month for the 50th season of Interlochen Presents. So many outstanding performances are slated for the month and some of the season's biggest names take the Corson and Kresge stages. In the midst of all of this headlining entertainment there is a special breed of artist who shares the stage with that "big name act." They are usually listed as the "Special Guest," but are known throughout the industry as the opening act. This stage in the artist's life is often the stage right before stardom when they finally see their own name in lights. Examples of opening acts that have gone on to enjoy huge success within the musical world are many, including Guns 'N Roses, Billy Joel, ZZ Top, Bon Jovi, Alan Jackson, and even current 2014 Presents performers Lynyrd Skynyrd were an opening act for The Who. The best example of all may be the Beattles, who began their rise as an opening act.

It is with that thought in mind that we sat down with Mandy Alexander, who will be opening for Sheryl Crow on June 13.

Mandy is a Traverse City native who moved to Nashville at the age of 22 and immediately set herself apart from the many other talented artists in that town. She is no stranger to sharing the stage with major names, having done just that with country superstars Montgomery Gentry here at Interlochen (wherein she was proposed to live on stage by her percussionist boyfriend). But, this show is something that Mandy is particularly excited about.

"Getting to open for national acts is always such an honor for me," says Mandy. "Getting to do so right outside of my hometown, with my family and friends in the audience, who have supported me since the very beginning, makes it that much more special. Opening for Sheryl Crow is a lifelong dream of mine. Hers was the first CD I bought when I was ten years old. She has really paved the way for women in music of all genres. I am so grateful and humbled to be returning to Interlochen to open for her."

And what will Mandy be bringing with her for this performance?

"Modern country is my genre, but with a lot of soul, blues and rock in the mix," she says. "I hope to make a connection with my audience with all my performances. You can expect a rockin' sassy show every time."

"I'm so excited to play for an audience as large as the one that will be at Kresge," she continued. "The largest audience I played for was last summer with Hunter Hayes, which was 6,500. I prep for these shows by trying to relax on show days and I always make sure to have a little quiet time to mentally prepare for the show. Whether I am performing for 4,000 or 4 people, I am just happy to be doing what I love most - being on stage and singing."

When the spotlight turns to Mandy, she plans to bring her best to the Kresge stage and leave her audience in awe of the young, powerful talent they have just witnessed. "Persistence, hard work and never giving up have gotten me to where I am today," Mandy says. "I am honored to be coming back for a second time to play the summer concert series at Interlochen."