Not many people can say they’ve brought Niall Horan to the verge of tears, but Lyons singer-songwriter Alexa Wildish has a way of moving people. The Coloradan’s emotional rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Songbird” during the Voice season 24 blind auditions earned the now-35-year-old a four-chair turn and a passionate plea from Horan to be on his team. “I’ve sat here, and I’ve waited for you,” the former One Direction star told her.

“As much as I thought I could prepare for something like this, nothing can truly brace you for singing on a stage that epic, in front of a live audience and millions of others [at home], and four of the most iconic musical mentors,” Wildish says. “I spent weeks working on my delivery, but mostly I wanted to tune into the feel of the song. You can practice a ton leading up to it, but in the moment, the only thing that translates is the feeling.”

Emotive and eloquent, Wildish delivered the ’70s tune as if she had penned it herself, the judges crooned.

“I sing this song a lot, but have never heard an audience get all riled up during my performance of it,” Wildish says. “It was shocking and a bit disorienting. I was giggling, teary-eyed, and dumbfounded. When each of the coaches began to talk about how they could hear my artistry and tell I was a songwriter, that completely blew me away.”

Wildish, under the direction of coach Horan, made it all the way to the show’s playoff round (the final 20 contestants) with the help of her crystal-clear tone and heartfelt storytelling.

Originally from Orange County, California, Wildish spent her childhood oceanside in the coastal town of Laguna Beach. A bit of a wandering soul, she spent time in Nashville, traveling the West (including Colorado) in a Sprinter van, before settling down more permanently in Lyons last year.

Wildish’s lilting vocals and penchant for telling stories through her songwriting hint at the musical influences of Brandi Carlile and Laura Marling, but fans might be surprised to know there is plenty of Dua Lipa and Harry Styles on her playlist, too. She released her self-titled first EP in 2019, a stirring collection of six songs laced with vulnerability and dreamy melodies that have been compared to Joni Mitchell and Alison Krauss. But that same year, Wildish established herself as an artist in her own right when she won the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival songwriting competition at Planet Bluegrass, an honor that earned her a slot on the Lyons festival’s main lineup in 2021.

Even when Wildish performs songs written by other artists, she’s mastered the art of covering them in a way that feels all her own. And if you don’t know what we mean, just listen to her folk-infused version of Cher’s 1998 bop “Believe” from the Voice Knockouts round. It’s a far cry from the auto-tuned pop anthem we know.

“I picked up my guitar, slowed it down, and thought, This is it,” says Wildish, reflecting on her decision to reinvent the dance club favorite. “I think because the genre was so different from what I do, I knew it was going to sound different anyhow. But I am very pleased with how it has landed.”

Wildish’s artistry is deeply rooted in her desire to connect with others through song, but she didn’t dream of doing it on prime-time television. In fact, the songstress was hesitant to enter the world of televised singing competitions because she didn’t want to be labeled a cover artist. But the Voice viewers could tell she was more than that from the first soaring notes of “Songbird.”

“The gift of being on the Voice is that it got me to shift my perspective on the music industry,” Wildish says. “I have been an independent artist my whole life, doing it all myself. I have been my own manager, booking agent, stylist, social media manager—you name it. Being on the Voice helped me to see that having a team of support is how more momentum is built. I am now in the process of calling in my own team and am excited about how that will manifest.”

She’s also formed friendships with some of the Voice competitors that have transcended the show. In November 2023, Wildish returned to the Wildflower Pavilion in Lyons for a sold-out show with fellow contestant Lennon VanderDoes.

And while the songwriter might not be glamming up for live TV singing battles these days, she’s back in the place that always inspires her.

“Colorado has been a huge support in finding my sound,” Wildish says. “The beauty of the land, the community, and the deep respect Colorado folks have for music are what keep me calling this place home. More music is coming next year. I feel it, and I am ready.”

Follow Wildish on Instagram and sign up for her mailing list to keep up with tour dates and music news.

Kalene McCort
Kalene McCort
Kalene McCort is the former features reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera and is working on her first novel. Follow her on Instagram @Kalenemccort.