Meet the America’s Got Talent violinist who wants to inspire all the other “weirdos & freaks”
For Alex Rivers, America’s Got Talent seemed like quite the shot. The young performer became a street artist after little formal training as a violinist. But having the drive to be a performer is what helped Rivers figure out who he is and what he wants out of life. Namely, he wants to represent the LGBTQ community proudly.
Although lacking the foundation of a supportive family, Rivers has made a name for himself on the Las Vegas strip playing covers of hit pop songs on his violin. It turns out that he has what it takes after making his way through his America’s Got Talent audition without any critiques. But it’s been a long road to where he is today.
When discussing growing up, Rivers explains why it was a necessity for him to get involved with the violin.
“Growing up, I had no musical background until I became a teenager and I got interested in performing music. But life was rough. My parents were separated and I was like the Black Sheep of the family. I’d act out a lot because I didn’t feel the support from them as a family. Being gay, I didn’t know how to handle that because I had no one to talk to. And I was bullied a lot for being gay.”
It turned out that the musical instrument Rivers fell in love with was his salvation and ticket to a career.
“But then I found the violin and it really helped me find a community. I had something to do to keep me out of trouble and I was able to focus my creativity. I don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t found the violin. I loved everything about it and I identified with it. After high school and moving up through the ranks of violin playing, I decided to become a street performer and I was worried about how it would go but people loved watching me perform.”
Rivers would perform on the Las Vegas strip, an area that was a constant reminder of America’s Got Talent. Billboards were everywhere advertising the show and people passing by who listened to the young violinist encouraged him to give the show a shot.
But that doesn’t mean performing on stage was an easy endeavor. Rivers was challenged creatively to provide an energetic show for the judges.
“I auditioned and felt really small on stage because everyone was so impressive and talented. Then, when Simon Cowell asked me to perform a second song instead, I prepared. I devoted my entire time and it paid off, but it was one of the scariest moments. But it all melted away and I was able to perform. I just pictured I was on the street performing and it helped me get through it.”
And it turns out that the mentality Rivers had was the secret to getting through in the competition. After performing in a snazzy ensemble with some dance moves that hearken back to the days of the underground ballroom scene, Rivers received unanimous praise from the judges who moved him along in the competition.
That experience was bewitching to Rivers who didn’t expect to make it through, let alone receive such rapturous applause from audiences and the judges.
“It felt weird at first but incredibly validating. I felt like I truly deserved to be there. I expected a no from each judge and instead everyone said yes and I fell to my knees just out of pure surprise. It felt like a fantasy.”
It’s hard not to root for the young performer. When he steps on stage, Rivers is bubbly and gregarious. Although nervous, he is clearly at home on stage performing in front of a crowd. It turns out that his queer identity and the violin have made him such an outgoing individual.
“It’s funny that you mention how bubbly I am because I never really saw myself that way. I’d have to attribute a lot of that to finding myself in the violin. Like I said, if I hadn’t found the violin, I don’t know what would have become of me. I’m a much happier person because of that.
“Also, it’s hard not to mention my queer identity. As a gay individual, I feel myself wanting to be a role model for other LGBTQ individuals out there finding themselves. It’s that desire to be a leader in my community that makes it so I’m a better and stronger person.”
And Rivers has some big ambitions for those who are inspired by him and his violinist performance.
“I try to represent all the weirdos and freaks and I hope that I represent so many people who went through the same things as I did and who have the same dreams. Always try and stand out and feel yourself represented in your community. People inspire me in my community because we still celebrate who we are even with everything going on. I want to represent those people and be accepted by the people who I love in our community. I’m inspired every day and hopefully, I can be that inspiration for others.”