Juggling a full course load while pursuing demanding hobbies is hard enough while going to one of the University of Georgia. Alexander “Xander” Ward, however, manages to devote hours to his risk management major, the Bulldogs and to pursue his true passion: music.
In the fall of 2018, this Bainbridge, Georgia, native’s first single, “But Her Eyes,” debuted, and is currently sitting comfortably on Spotify with over 100,000 streams.
On Friday, Feb. 8, listeners woke up to a remix of the popular song. The remix is much more of an electronic dance music, or EDM, style; it’s a collaboration with producer and creator Riggsëy.
It all started with a steady rhythm overlain by an interesting mix, where Ward’s vocals truly shine. Overall, the original song has a distinct indie-pop sound.
“I consider myself more of a John Mayer-type,” Ward said. “I was listening to him and Charlie Puth — all these guys who sing in that way all summer — and I always wondered if I could step in that direction.”
The road to Nashville
Being from Bainbridge, a rural town, getting away from small-town culture and stepping into another direction was challenging.
Even though Ward got his first guitar when he was 7 and had been taking lessons since he was 8 years old, it wasn’t until high school that he realized how important music was in his life. Ward felt he didn't really fit into his small town, but playing guitar eased his mind and kickstarted his thirst for performing.
“Instead of going to all the parties and in-crowd stuff, I would just kind of do my own thing — I’d do music,” Ward said.
From there, Ward went on to play for local churches and bands. He quickly realized his passion for music extended beyond just playing on Sundays and began looking into how he could make music a focus in his life.
“The song is all about love and loss and finding your strength in this newfound loss. This is beyond me.”
— Alexander Ward, musician
After graduating high school, Ward went on to attend Belmont University in Nashville, where he was a music major with a focus on guitar. In the three months he was there, Ward played so often he developed nerve damage in his fingers — something that stopped Ward from playing for about a year.
“This was by far one of the biggest things that shaped me as a person because I just didn’t have a lot going for me during that time,” Ward said. “I had to learn to cope with not knowing if I would ever play music again.”
While his injury might have side-tracked him, Ward was determined not to let it define him.
After his injury forced him to leave Belmont University, he came to the University of Georgia and decided to try something new to keep himself active — cheerleading.
From sidelines to singing
As you file into Sanford Stadium on Saturdays during the fall semester, energy fills the air — you’re there with nearly 93,000 of your closest friends, ready to cheer on the Bulldogs. Everyone is excited, and it’s nearly palpable.
Look down onto the field and you might see Ward on the sidelines, wearing the iconic red and black and leading the cheers for the rest of the stadium to follow.
It seems like a minor horizontal step to move from the sidelines of Sanford Stadium to the studio.
Creating a song and being there for every step of the process gives a sense of gratification unlike any other. With each small improvement to the piece, Ward saw his dreams being fulfilled.
“I wish I could go back to those three days of recording,” Ward said. “It was one of the most surreal moments — just being able to consider myself an artist and putting my money into this and seeing something happen.”
Ward was willing to chase his dreams, financially and otherwise, on his own, but was met with a lot of backing from his parents once he showed them his demo.
Friends have also shown Ward an outpouring of support, constantly sharing his song and increasing his platform.
“I shamelessly make everyone I know listen to it if we’re in the car,” said Megan Krivsky, a recent UGA alumna from Clayton, Georgia. “Alex works really hard to make music that’s personal… that others can enjoy. I know that’s most artists’ goal, but Alex somehow sets himself apart.”
Reaching his goal of 100,000 streams on his first single, Ward was ready with something new for his fans.
The remix is a style that’s already climbing past his boundaries. Ward isn’t afraid to grow and push the envelope.
“I'm really excited,” the budding musician said. "The song is all about love and loss and finding your strength in this newfound loss. This is beyond me.”