Thursday, July 13, 2017
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Alex Angelo will have the home court advantage when he opens for Pitbull on Saturday night at Covelli Centre.
The 16-year-old singer-dancer-DJ – Alex Angelo Gutierrez is his full name – is no stranger to the Mahoning Valley. His parents grew up in Niles, and his grandmother and some other relatives still live there. He’s visited so many times that it feels like home.
Born in Fort Myers, Fla., Angelo moved to Cleveland with his parents in 2003, when he was 3 years old. That’s where his entertainment career got started as part of the youth dance team for the Cavaliers basketball team.
Angelo and his family moved to the Cincinnati suburb of Madeira in 2013, where he attends high school. He’ll make the trip to Youngstown this weekend for Saturday’s concert, and also to greet fans and perform Friday afternoon at Southern Park Mall.
In a phone interview last week, Angelo recalled how he got started in show business.
“I started dancing at a young age, just messing around, and when I was 7 years old, my parents and I went to a workshop at The Q, but it turned out it was a tryout for the Cavs Kids dance team,” he said. “They called us back, and it was the craziest thing. I didn’t know much about dance, but they said, ‘We want you on the team.’ I was surprised and shocked.”
Angelo and the youth troupe would dance before and at halftime at Cavs games. Then he began to branch out.
“I learned a lot there about freestyling and choreography and just becoming a dancer. Then I started DJing when the team warmed up, and that progressed to doing parties and shows and touring. It was gradual.”
He puts all three of his skills together in his live show. “I have so much fun up there,” he said. “It’s cool to see the crowd having a good time. I’m like a one-man band. I will walk away from the DJ equipment and dance and sing.”
His repertoire is a mix of covers and his own songs.
Despite his young age, Angelo has already released two EPs of his own music, including “This Is the Beginning” (2014), and has opened shows for the likes of Austin Mahone, Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes and Fifth Harmony. His latest single is “Gypsy,” which is available on all digital music retailers.
He had always wanted to do a show in the Youngstown area and worked to get on the bill for the Pitbull show. Saturday’s concert will actually be the second time he’ll open for Mr. Worldwide – the first being a 2012 concert at Nautica Pavilion in Cleveland.
Angelo’s career has included a stint with Disney Radio two years ago, in which he did his own two-hour weekly syndicated show.
With so many skills, including DJing, producing, dance, songwriting, singing, does Angelo have a favorite?
Not really, he said with a laugh. He likes them all.
“There is a shift that happens every so often, and lately I really enjoy writing and producing music,” he said. “But then I’ll go out on stage and perform and I will enjoy that. I can’t pinpoint one thing. I’ve been doing them all for so long, and I like doing it all.”
Asked if acting is the next logical progression for his career, Angelo indicated that he’s already thought about it.
“I would love to do films and stuff,” he said. “It would be great to be like Justin Timberlake.”
His teachers at Madeira High School are very accommodating of his career, which has made it possible to go on tours.
“Touring is incredible,” he said. “I love it. It’s a season that you’ve got to be prepared for. You’ve got to have your set ready so that when you go up there on stage, you are in a routine. I enjoy the schedule of waking up in a different city, playing that night, going to sleep and then doing it again the next day. I love that regimen, and meeting the fans. There are so many benefits from touring that range from learning the business to just life. It helps me grow and get inspiration, and also learn from others. We always go into [the other acts’] sound check and watch how they operate so that when it’s our time, we know the way we want to go.”
Fans who decide to catch an early, and more personal, dose of Angelo at Friday’s Southern Park Mall appearance should expect the full range of entertainment. “I will sing and bring the same excitement and energy as the concert, but just shifted into the daytime,” he said. His appearance, which is free to attend, will begin at 3 p.m.
Back to the Cavaliers.
With his involvement during games, Angelo became a part of the franchise, with a sense of connection that might have surpassed even some diehard fans.
After entertaining at the games years before, how did he feel when the team finally won the NBA championship in 2016 in such dramatic fashion?
“We cried and we were so pumped. I didn’t think it was real,” said Angelo. “It was such a huge moment.”