A grand piano has 88 keys: singer-songwriter Alex Whorms intends to play all of them throughout her career. The 2019 recipient of the Hamilton Arts Award for Emerging Artist in Music is quickly gaining recognition for her dramatic musical arrangements, which combine aspects of indie, pop and orchestral music.
“My favourite songs don’t fit neatly into any single genre,” she says, referencing influences like Regina Spektor, Sara Bareilles, Tori Amos, Ingrid Michaelson and Sarah Slean. “I like it when I am able to notice something new about a song every time I listen to it.”
Whorms’ appreciation for nuance and intricacy began in Ajax, Ontario, where she was born. As a child, she devoted herself to the study of classical piano and voice, with a particular interest in the works of Romantic-era composers like Chopin, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff. She holds a Grade 10 Piano Certificate from the Royal Conservatory of Music. In high school, she played lead characters in several community theatre productions, where she found a second home onstage.
“I love the way Broadway music is used to communicate the characters' feelings and experiences”, explains Whorms. “While I was doing theatre, I realized that I could create songs to document my life in the same way.”
Everything changed for Alex Whorms in 2013, when she moved to Hamilton to study science at McMaster University. Feeling unfulfilled by her studies, she discovered the city’s vibrant music scene and a burning desire to perform again. “I think I realized that I had made the wrong career choice when I started skipping chemistry lectures to write more music,” she laughs.
Whorms began to perform her music on campus and throughout Hamilton, where her “organic” and “earnest” approach to pop songwriting immediately turned heads. Since the 2017 release of her debut EP Our Lives, Whorms has performed over 100 concerts in Canada and New York City, both as a soloist and with her band. Some of her career highlights so far include performances at Hamilton’s 2018 Festival of Friends and Canadian Music Week 2019. Whorms’ 2019 single “Sunset” debuted on CBC Radio One’s “In The Key of C”, and Our Lives charted on several regional radio stations.
Following the 2019 release of her sophomore EP, Burgundy, Whorms performed live on CHCH TV, and was featured on music publications including Tinnitist and Canadian Beats. Early reviews of Burgundy have been overwhelmingly positive: Andrew Powell of The Gate describes her music as “deeply autobiographical, very honest, and clearly shows an artist who has reached a new stage in her career.”
"Alex's organic approach to music is hugely refreshing"
- Amy King, Producer at Grant Avenue Studio
"...real, honest purity"
- CBC Hamilton, "3 new Ontario songs you need to hear this week"
"Alex Whorms’ “Too Many Love Songs” is deeply autobiographical, very honest, and clearly shows an artist who has reached a new stage in her career"
- The Gate, Watch: Alex Whorms’ “Too Many Love Songs”
"beautifully crafted pop songs"
- The Hamilton Spectator, Graham Rockingham’s best bets