By Kierstyn Pryor
From Sun’s J.M. Van Eaton to Stax’s Al Jackson, Jr. and Hi’s Howard Grimes, Memphis has a long history of producing world-class drummers that help to define the beat of their particular era. Enter Alex Pruitt, a 26 year old drummer whose work is being showcased in cities and countries across the world. Pruitt first began playing local gigs around the city as a young boy, graduated to playing gigs for rap sensation Al Kapone, and is now working with singer-songwriter Tai Verdes. Over the years, he has learned just what it means to provide the perfect rhythms to any song. “Music is so delicate. By me being the drummer, I wanna make everybody dance. If that record makes everybody move, I want to make sure that I am the record at that point,” he says.
Although his dream was always to become a drummer, Alex revealed that at one point in his life his dream of someday working in an arena drove him to the world of basketball. Little did he know, his dreams of playing stadiums would eventually come true, just as a benefit of being a musician! Alex’s love for drumming began at the young age of 2. He grew up in church where he began playing many gospel tunes and learned his first style of drumming. By purchasing a song each week through Apple Music’s older features, he was able to constantly learn new songs which played a huge role in his diversity as a drummer. He attended Soulsville Charter School and received many opportunities while enrolled in the Stax Music Academy. At age 18, Alex had already played many gigs around town, and, in 2018, he was called to his first big gig, working with popular rap artist, Al Kapone.
He recalls how much his craft was developed while working with the rapper. Everyone has their own sound, and the jump from gospel to rap really shaped Alex into the drummer he is today. While he was used to playing a more acoustic drum sound, Al Kapone preferred a more electronic sound, enhancing Alex’s musical abilities. “Playing for a rap artist was such a unique experience,” Alex says. It taught him that he needed to be able to adapt to whatever his career brought his way. This was not the only time he had to alter the way he learned. Playing for wedding bands prepared him to stay on his toes and always be ready to take on any song at any time with little direction. “It prepared me for just learning a whole bunch of music at once. I remember a time that I didn’t even get a setlist so I had to go off the hip,” states Alex. Moments like those and having a wide variety of taste in music assisted Alex with making his dreams come true.
Inspirations and Goals
With plans of one day owning his own studio, Alex spoke of how timeless music can be and how certain artists’ music have been a light to others for many years. That is exactly what he plans to do for others. He hopes to someday branch out into a solo artist and have an impact that is forever memorable. Alex believes studying the works of others is necessary for growth as an instrumentalist and will help him achieve his goals. Alex was heavily influenced by his brother, music producer and multi-instrumentalist, DJ Pruitt, instrumentalists Stanley Randolph, Chris Pat, and drummer Stixx Taylor of Justin Bieber’s band. Furthermore, one of the many things he has learned from watching those around him is the importance of energy. As a drummer, it is vital to have massive amounts of energy, and for Alex the crowd is key in providing that spark. “You create your fun!” He believes that the energy of the crowd, finding ways to have fun, and keeping others engaged is the key to his artistry. He strives to display that energy every time he hits the stage!
Alex has accomplished many great things already at his young age. He has devoted his life to creating a better sound for artists on stage and even instructing young ones. Through one on one time, small classes, and even workshops, he has been able to use his gift to help others. He has performed on grand stages, such as Madison Square Garden, Lollapalooza, and even Jingle Ball, and he is currently a member of Tai Verdes’ band! He says that Jingle Ball was one of the best moments he has experienced in concert. He was excited to see so many stars around him and to experience such a concentration of talent. He also says that being a drummer has allowed him to conquer some challenges and face some fears he never thought he would face. Touring in Belgium, Germany, Paris and more, Alex was able to conquer his fear of heights. His musical journey allowed him to skydive and do many other things Alex says he wishes to try again.
Alex’s story, while still unfurling, is an important reminder that while being a musician can be adventurous , it also requires hard work and dedication. Given the success he has already found at a young age, we’re confident that Pruitt will soon join the pantheon of Memphis’ greatest drummers.