Congratulations to Alex and Rusty, winners of our 2023 Velvet Open!
Alex Barry is a young jazz bass player from Suwanee, GA pursuing a degree in Jazz Performance under Rodney Jordan at Florida State University. Alex has been surrounded by music his whole life and he picked up the electric bass at the age of 12 which turned into a love for jazz and funk music with the influence of his grandfather, a jazz bassist who played with names like Dizzy Gillespie and Barbara Streisand. Alex is also the bassist of a local jazz group called “The Midnight Collective” which consists of other young talented musicians all pursuing music degrees. These musicians are Reed Jorgenson on saxophone, Jaiden Swami on drums, Issac Lourie on guitar, and Blake Dwelle on piano. All of these young men have a deep desire to pursue music professionally and all have promising futures as performers, teachers, and creators.
Rusty Hayes was raised in the Atlanta area. He grew up surrounded by a
rich mixture of soul stirring music, including the classic and
contemporary gospel music that was everywhere in his formative years.
Jazz, Soul and Rock also shaped his musical landscape as Atlanta
became a more multicultural city.
He began singing gospel as a teenager, and joined his first Band in his
twenties. The Group was called Club 81. He was the front man for the
band for three years and later joined the Native Sons spending the next
five years as lead singer and co-writer, playing throughout the south
east. Both bands specialized in Jump Blues and Jazz.
Rusty has recorded several original songs all rooted in the blues and
He can be seen regularly on the Jazz and Blues scene.