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Alex Boyé has taken part in some high-profile Christmas shows as a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and as a guest of The Piano Guys, among others. But he hasn't headlined a Christmas show in Utah until now.
Boyé will bring his 12-piece band, choir and dancers to Kingsbury Hall on Saturday for what he promises will be a high-energy, "Africanized" show of seasonal favorites.
Born in London, raised by a Nigerian mother and naturalized as a U.S. citizen nearly four years ago, Boyé said all these facets of his identity come together in his music. Music videos in his signature style in which he peppers popular songs with African rhythms as well as phrases in Yoruba, Swahili and other languages have garnered tens of millions of views on YouTube. Boyé got further exposure on the TV competition "America's Got Talent" this summer.
"Most people who know me [from those appearances] are aware of what I do, but my take on Christmas music will be something they haven't heard before," he said, adding the concert will feature multimedia elements that will be "very interactive and a lot of fun."
Boyé was born in the Tottenham neighborhood of London, but spent several years of his early boyhood in Nigeria. His mother, who raised him alone, "hardly spoke English," Boyé said. "The food, the culture, the language, everything was Nigerian."
After serving a mission in Bristol, England, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which he'd joined as a teenager he started singing in a band called Awesome. (Boyé noted with amusement that he initially was startled when people in the United States replied, "Awesome!" after he mentioned he'd been in a boy band. It didn't take him long to figure out that, rather than letting him know they recognized his music, his new friends were using an American synonym for "cool.")
After a few years, Boyé concluded that the life of a touring musician "was taking me down a road that led somewhere I didn't want to go," he told The Salt Lake Tribune in 2009. So he moved to Salt Lake City, where he performed in community theater and eventually joined the Tabernacle Choir. He sang in the choir for eight years, retiring last year to pursue a solo career; he still appears occasionally as a guest soloist.
Asked about favorite holiday memories, Boyé recalled a Christmas he spent in Bristol. He and his fellow missionaries weren't having much luck knocking on doors that day, so they went to a homeless shelter and set up a chair in the middle of the street, offering free haircuts. "I brought my clippers and oh my gosh, we were there from 9 [p.m.] until 3 in the morning," Boyé said. "My arm was killing me. But it was the most exhilarating experience. When you go to the hairdresser, you tell him all your stories. The things I learned even people who struggled, I saw how strong they are. Half the stories I heard, I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. But some of them were still smiling and happy. It put things in perspective and made me grateful for where I am."
Alex Boyé will give a Christmas concert, putting his "Africanized" spin on familiar carols.
When • Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where • Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $35-$55; tickets.utah.edu/events/alex-boye-africanized-christmas/