Alex Mackey is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly referred to as the Mormon Church). He was born in South Carolina and has lived in 11 states and two countries. He graduated from BYU in 1996 with a degree in Advertising.
He first began to play the piano while in the first grade. He took lessons on and off over the next nine years, but he was still unable to read music when he finally quit in the ninth grade. That is where his interest in piano began. He started playing songs that he had heard on the radio by sounding them out.
While attending college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, he saw someone play a different version of a familiar hymn and thought to himself, “That can’t be too hard!” He started to rearrange the hymn, “I am a Child of God,” which took about four months before he was able to play it with confidence in front of an audience.
While in the MTC, preparing to serve his mission in Viña del Mar, Chile, for the Church, he found that he had a few minutes here and there to play the piano. In a quick, and what felt like an inspired 30-minute session, he was able to come up with an arrangement of the hymn, “Nearer My God to Thee.”
Upon returning home from his mission and after playing his first two arrangements in numerous Church meetings, he received other requests to compose new arrangements for other hymns. Ten years later, and after thousands of hours at the piano, still unable to read music, he released his first full-length CD, which was jokingly titled FINALLY.
After the release of FINALLY, Alex composed an arrangement of Silent Night and wrote a couple of original songs for the family of an organ donor who saved the life of his dad. The three-track EP that was recorded and sent to the family was called Traces of Memories. The EP is available on both Apple Music and Amazon, and is also available for purchase at CDBaby.
Alex says, “Playing in front of an audience terrifies me. My leg starts shaking uncontrollably and I must jam it between the pedal and the top of the piano…which unfortunately makes the song sound super muddy. But despite that, or maybe because of that, I pray a LOT the week before I play in church. I’m praying during Sacrament meeting, pretty much right up to the time I have to walk up and play.” Alex continues:
While I pray that I won’t mess up, that’s not the focus. I pray that I will play with the spirit. I pray that people can FEEL the spirit through the music. And I know this may sound corny, but I feel there’s a huge difference between playing with your soul versus just reading the music. And when I finish playing a song in church, if I’ve done my job, I find myself in tears as I’m walking back to the pew. It’s a little embarrassing but I thank my Heavenly Father that I was able to play with the spirit.
Alex is a consummate entrepreneur. He currently has a video production company, an after-school arts program, and most recently, he started a board game company with fellow member and neighbor, Mike Szalajko.
Alex commented, “Mike and I were down in Ft. Myers in September 2017 with Mormon Helping Hands. We were helping with the Hurricane Irma cleanup. While chain-sawing trees all day we started talking about a variety of things and thought it’d be fun to start a board game company. So, we did.” The duo went on to form Lethal Chicken Games and by March 2018 landed an exclusive deal with Target. Their first game, What The Film?!, hit the shelves of Target in July 2018.
“One of the things I loved about creating What The Film?! was that we could infuse bits of religious elements into the game,” Alex said. “We have a Mormon Missionaries card, a “set card” called Church in Session which looks very reminiscent of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints type setting. And there are other nods to things from our culture, sites and religion,” Alex continued.
You can learn more about Alex by visiting his personal websites here and here. His business websites can be found here, here, and here. His awesome music can be streamed on Amazon and you can also find his music under W. Alex Mackey, III and stream it on Apple Music.
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