Alexis P. Suter is an ambassador of love.
The lyrics she sings with her full, baritone voice are as real as her dynamic stage presence, and she doesn't allude to topics like relationships, crowded city life or glad-handed backstabbers - she instead pulls them from the shadows of personal experience and launches them at the crowd with unabashed honesty.
We've all been there before and we can all relate, and that's why Suter connects so well with her audiences.
"It's so deep for me," Suter said. "Sometimes it's so painful and sometimes it's so loving. There are so many things, and it's truly what our life is. It's what we go through every day, and we put it to words, we put it to music and we put it out there, and we're totally vulnerable to the people watching us. I think a lot of them get that."
Suter explained that her ability to be vulnerable in front of strangers is a gift that she needs to share with others because music can bring people together, it can heal people emotionally and it can loosen the grip of stress that everyone sometimes feels. While the thrust of her message is never to promote negativity, Suter doesn't tiptoe around it, either.
"We all know that life isn't always peaches and cream," Suter said. "A flower needs water to grow, but it also needs dirt. It needs those two elements, and with that and the sun, which to me represents the truth, it makes that flower grow."
If you go....
The Recovery Lounge, Route 9, Upper?Jay
8 p.m. Saturday
24 Cedar St.
2 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $15 or $12 for members
The lyrics certainly shine and the music is deep, blues-driven and heavily laden with, but never bogged down by, thunderous gospel-style choruses, heartwrenching soul grooves and tight, flowing rhythms.
Suter says she tries to offer something for everyone, and this weekend she's going above and beyond. She will celebrate her birthday with a performance at the Upper Jay Arts Center in Upper Jay at 8 p.m. Saturday. That show will have the full Alexis P. Suter Band consisting of drums, horns, keyboard, bass, guitar and backing vocals.
At 2 p.m. Sunday she'll get back to her roots and perform a gospel review at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake called Alexis P. Suter and the Ministers of Sound. That show will feature Suter with a back-up vocalist, drums and piano.
"I grew up in the church, and that's always been the very first part of me," Suter said. "This gospel show is going to be a deep show and I'm hoping that I touch somebody's soul with this. I'm hoping that someone is there that has some type of problem in their life, or is just going through something where they need to hear this, and I hope they hear it and it's a healing experience for them."
Suter explained that she was religious early in her life, but these days she considers herself to be spiritual and not religious. Religion, she said, is for people who are afraid of going to hell, but spirituality is for those who have been there.
"My father was a head Deacon and my mother used to play the organ at the church," Suter said. "I know that you can't kill the messenger; you can just listen to the message, so I listened to the message when I was there. A lot of the messages were uplifting, but some messages I didn't dig too much. My thing is, God is love, and love is for everybody. When you start excluding people from that love, then it's not love."
That love has swirled through Suter's life, which she now appropriately defines as a musical journey. It began with singing in the church, where she quickly realized she wanted to be either a musician or a veterinarian. Her love of animals hasn't faded over the years, but she has never regretted the decision, either.
When Suter isn't on the road she stays in the same Brooklyn apartment she's had since 1967. It's the place she calls home, a place that's close to family and friends.
Suter has visited the North Country before, and said her friend and local photographer Laura Carbone has given her a home-away-from-home in Plattsburgh whenever she's in the area.
"You can tell everyone that Alexis Suter did not want to end this interview without saying that she loves Dr. Laura Carbone," Suter insisted. "This person is very important to me and she's keeping the blues alive up in that region."
Suter's statement was particularly striking simply because it seemed to be magnificently typical of her life's work - honest, unapologetic and firmly rooted in love.
"This walk that I walk is one of love," Suter said. "That's all I'm about, that's all I want to do, that's all I want to be remembered as and that's all I want to be known as. That's it."
Tickets for both shows are $15. Tickets to the BluSeed Studios show are $12 for BluSeed members. Reservations are recommended for both shows.