Alex Mercier
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Alex Mercier


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"Mercier All Hustle and Flow"

Mercier All Hustle and Flow
Huskies record CD to benefit terminally ill children

Alex Mercier, Chris Hemphill and Roy Lewis are working in conjunction with Soulumination.
Sept. 7, 2006

SEATTLE (AP) -- Like most 22-year-olds, Alex Mercier has his cell phone pressed to his head. Again.

But Mercier is not gabbing about which bar he will be meeting his buddies at later. He's not yapping about potential dates, his coolest iPod download, or how uncool his classes at the University of Washington will be this quarter.

"We are having problems getting the CDs pressed," a harried Mercier said before a recent Huskies practice. "The deadline, you know, is before the first game."

The determined Mercier got his Husky Nation compact discs packaged and ready for sale at Husky Stadium last Saturday during Washington's season-opening win over San Jose State.

Mercier's senior class project is far more than that. All proceeds from sales of the $7 album benefit Soulumination, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that provides free, professional photography of children facing life-threatening illnesses.

As Mercier and the rest of the Huskies prepared for the season -- including this Saturday's ominous test at No. 15 Oklahoma -- he also was writing much of the album containing six rap tracks by him and teammates Quintin Daniels, Marlon Wood and Chris Hemphill. Mercier mixed the sound during 11-hour days in a recording studio. And he promoted the project through fliers that he personally addressed and mailed throughout Puget Sound and beyond.

"It's pretty good," Washington coach Tyrone Willingham said of the CD, widening his eyes for emphasis. "If you didn't know they were college football players, you would think it was done by professionals."

Last week, during the Huskies' only off day since preseason camp began in early August, Mercier was at Soul Sound Audio in suburban Edmonds, a recording studio run by childhood friend David Thompson. Mercier, a guitar and piano player, has been dabbling there since he was 15.

"Football during the day. This at night," Mercier said when asked how he's done it all.

The only thing that has slowed the nonstop Mercier has been a painful hamstring strain that has hampered the receiver and kick returner's rise from unknown walk-on to Washington spring camp star.

Willingham can use all the playmakers he can find in the second year of his attempt to rebuild once-mighty Washington, which is 4-19 since the start of the 2004 season. He could especially use playmakers for Saturday's game against the angry Sooners, who barely got past Alabama-Birmingham at home in their underwhelming opener.

Willingham can also use a man like Mercier in the coach's bid to produce Husky players of character who succeed in life, not just football.

"This is a perfect example," Willingham said.

Lynette Johnson, the professional photographer who founded Soulumination, is far more effusive.

"Alex is an amazing human being," said Johnson. "He's a show-stopper."

The 52-year-old mother of two daughters began Soulumination 10 years ago, after she took pictures of her niece, who was stillborn.

It was then that Mercier met Johnson. He was attending Bishop Blanchet High School, north of downtown Seattle, with Johnson's daughters.

"He was an atypical high school student, too," Johnson said. "Sitting around the breakfast table, he was just so grounded."

In the last decade, Johnson has produced photos free of charge for families who are facing the loss of a child. Selected portraits were on display this spring at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Through her foundation, she has become a spokeswoman for the cause of critically ill children and a counselor for their parents.

"Lynette told me that of the 50-some shoots she did last year, about 30 of the kids didn't make it through the year," Mercier said.

Last year, after he and his teammates recorded a rap song, Husky Nation, Mercier began thinking how to turn his effort into an album. But NCAA rules prohibit him from profiting off any sale. So he thought of Johnson and Soulumination.

After tediously clearing the project with university and Pac-10 conference officials, Mercier went back to Johnson -- who always goes back to the children she photographs.

Last month, Mercier, Wood, Hemphill and teammate Roy Lewis visited Johnson's Seattle studio to take pictures with some of the children she has photographed.

"It really touched my heart," Hemphill said. "They were so joyful. Some got a little scared at first because they didn't know us, as you would expect. But then they were laughing and playing. It was a fun experience."

One of the kids was Andrew, who has tumors in his sinuses. He was playing football with the players at Johnson's studio when an errant toss bonked him in the head. Still, later that day, Andrew gleefully tossed a ball around in his yard. His parents reported it was the first time he had been so interested in a football.

Andrew said it was because he had just "played football with the Huskies."

"When you meet them and meet the parents, you realize this is pretty important," Mercier said. "You just kind of realize the severity of the situation."

Those are the lessons that Mercier will take away from Washington.

"Being in college, being a football player, you are using to being young, having fun, basically thinking of yourself," Mercier said. "You don't think about death, having kids, living a real life."

Being around Soulumination and that "real life" has caused Mercier's mind to drift during his football afternoons.

As he said, "To be put in that situation, real-life situations, makes you think, 'Is what I am doing really what's important?"' - Seattle AP

"Alex Mercier, University of Washington Receiver, Goes Pro"

One of my favorite television commercials is the NCAA ad spot that graphs a montage of student athletes, followed by the tag line "Most NCAA athletes go pro in something other than sports." There couldn't be a more fitting introduction to Alex Mercier, former University of Washington wide receiver.

Mercier has become a professional, most definitely, but it's not the NFL who came knocking. For Alex, it was the record labels.

Yes, Mercier is making sweet waves across the music scene with his raw R&B sound and picture-perfect smile.
We must admit, we're guilty of stereotyping college football players in our mind, and when we do, we hardly imagine a sensitive soul who explodes with musical talent on the guitar and piano while writing his own lyrics.
But we're not imagining Mercier. He exceeds our expectations and brings new meaning to the term "triple threat."
Mercier has been performing since his pee-wee football days as a child. With a guitar in one arm and a football in his other, Alex was able to achieve the impossible. He made strides in two of the most difficult fields imaginable: football and music.
Mercier brought his music into the locker room, and his teammates knew him simply as "the music guy."
Alex composed a song for the University of Washington Huskies that is still played before gametime; however, today he stands under a new spotlight. Alex is front and center in the bright lights of Hollywood, and this J.T. lookalike's stock is rising. You'll recognize a number of his songs on your favorite television shows and he has a single that's sure to race up the charts quickly this summer.
With a face like Justin Timberlake and a sound reminiscent of Robin Thicke, it's almost impossible to believe such talent and sensitivity is courtesy of someone who played an aggressive, take charge style of football. Alex Mercier is truly a down-to-earth soul with a heart of gold.
Alex sat down with Glam Girls for an exclusive interview before heading off to the studio. He smiles when thinking back to his two biggest passions: rocking Husky Stadium on past Saturdays and rocking Hollywood today.

Alex Mercier—University of Washington Wide Receiver/Singer & Songwriter

GG: Tell us about your college experience? What is your favorite Husky memory?

AM: "My College experience was crazy. I started out at the U. of Oregon as a walk-on receiver. There is nothing like 12 days straight of double days! I spent two good years there and played in a few games (Sun Bowl was one of them) as a redshirt freshman, but decided to try something new. I packed up to Pasadena and played JC ball for a year.

"That was a trip. All kinds of folks come from all over the map to make it as a football player. It really gives you a perspective of what football means to a lot of people. I met some of the craziest people I have ever met in Juco! It was a fun year, caught a bunch of balls and got some offers. In the end I always wanted to play for the Huskies, my hometown team. So there I went.

"I showed up at the same time as Coach Willingham. The whole program was changing. By spring was getting a lot of attention from coaches and press…things were looking good…Was playing really good football...even started the HUSKY NATION Project.

"Everything was perfect until my legs started giving out. Was one of the hardest things in my life that I’ve experienced. Too work so hard and have it all right in front of you, and then not being able to grab it…very strange feeling. People would ask how much longer till you're back?...I wanted to say a few days, but when I would test it… it just wouldn’t go.

"My big senior season was reduced to just a few games. I think it was the universe's way of saying, 'It’s time to move on to what you were really meant to do' I got a whole lot of life out of college football. I think I saw more than most…two Division I teams and SoCal Juco ball. It taught me so much."

GG: When did you know you wanted to become a musician?

AM: "When I was 11, I was sleeping over at a friend's house and at 3am a concert of Stevie Ray Vaughn was being broadcast on public TV. It blew my mind. It was instant…that was what I had to be about. "

GG: Did you perform in front of your teammates?

AM: "I found myself performing in front of teammates often…Everyone knew I was the music guy. If there was a mic around…I was usually on it."

GG: Did you feel you ever had to keep music a secret from teammates?

AM: "When I was a freshman at Oregon, I didn’t really go to far into it…and then a teammate and I got a song on the local radio…it was a bit surprising to the coaches especially. Within a few days I kinda got the rep… "

GG: Tell us about the U-Dub song you composed?

AM: "The Husky Nation project started out with myself and a few teammates messing around. We thought it would be cool to have a hype song for the upcoming season. It went really well, and the athletes throughout the athletic department really responded to it. I thought this might be a good opportunity to do something cool for Husky fans and try and raise some money for a good cause. So, we ended up putting together an Album….And it sold really well! I think they still play the songs in the Stadium on Saturdays…"

GG: Were your teammates supportive of your music?

AM: "They were really supportive…and curious. Getting on “the mic” is a lot like having the ball in your hands. It’s addicting. My teammates would often ask if they could come by the studio and give it a shot…Sometime it went well…Sometimes, not so much."

GG: What's happening now? New music? Tell us about Alex Mercier today...

AM: "Right now I’m in LA. I just finished recording my first full length record. We’re really excited about it. We’re releasing the first single and video "X's & O's" online next week…you can get info on that at:
Before that I was doing a lot of writing for TV…Some shows you might be familiar with… Keeping up with the Kardashians, The Real World, LA Ink, Styled, and High School Reunion."

GG: What is one thing nobody knows about you?

AM: "I love dogs! I survived in L.A. by taking care of them. They are such honest and loyal creatures. If you earn their respect, it’s amazing what kind of bond you can make…I’m hoping the same goes for FANS!"

Alex Mercier, athlete, songwriter, musician, and all-around talented soul. We can't wait to see what this Husky has in store next.

Stay Gorgeous,
xoAng - Bleacher Report

"Mercier Mixes Music With Charity"

In the happy aftermath of Saturday's 29-19 win over UCLA, it was convenient to label the victory as a defining moment for the type of program coach Tyrone Willingham is trying to build at Washington.

But Willingham thought what happened Sunday morning, away from any television cameras and screaming crowds, might have lent just as much definition.

Roughly 15 hours after they had helped finish off UCLA, Huskies Alex Mercier, Chris Hemphill and Marlon Wood spent about an hour in a Ballard photo studio hanging out with Ellie Jo Nowicki.

Ellie Jo, who turns 2 in December, is battling to overcome a stroke suffered when she was 3 days old. She was there to be photographed by Lynette Johnson, who organizes free photo shoots of ill children and their families for a project she calls Soulumination.

The players were there as part of their own project to help fund Soulumination — a CD titled "Husky Nation" that was produced by Mercier as part of his senior-class project to finish a degree in music management. All proceeds from the CD, which costs $6.95 and is available online and at Husky Stadium, go to Soulumination.

"These are very thoughtful young men, and their focus is not themselves," Willingham said. "And that is what I think is the hallmark of our program, that it is not a program about self, but about team, about we, about us."


Washington @ Arizona, 7 p.m.

At the heart of the project is Mercier, a walk-on receiver from Bishop Blanchet High School.

His two passions, he says, are football and music. He has been cutting records since high school, and plays guitar and piano and signs and writes songs.

Mercier found a way to combine those twin callings last spring when he and former teammate J.R. Wolfork, a walk-on who was on last season's team, cut a single called "Husky Nation" that also included contributions from Hemphill, Wood, Quintin Daniels and former receiver Charles Smith.

Over the summer, that single morphed into an entire album of songs all related to Huskies football, with titles such as "Victory Lap," "I'm A Husky" and "All Dawgs go to Heaven."

NCAA rules, however, prohibit players or schools from being able to profit from such albums, so Mercier sought a charity. He remembered Johnson, whom he has known for about 10 years. Mercier and Johnson's daughters attended Bishop Blanchet together.

Johnson, a professional photographer for 18 years, formed Soulumination about five years ago. She began shooting portraits of families with terminally ill children about 11 years ago after some people close to her had lost babies. At first, she shot just a couple of families a year. But as word got out, there were more and more requests, and she formed Soulumination to fund her work. She donates all portraits to the families and has also become a national spokeswoman and counselor on the topic of seriously ill children. Some of her photos were on display last spring at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

"The more you read about it, the more you look at it, the more you appreciate what she is doing," Mercier said.

Mercier and Wolfork are credited with all the writing and producing of the music, which is a blend of pop and hip-hop.

As the project unfolded, Mercier approached players on the team he thought would have an interest.

"I like music, and he knows that and he came to me and asked me and we made it happen," said Hemphill, a backup safety.

Mercier handled most of the logistical work, namely making sure the project didn't run afoul of NCAA rules and that it passed muster with Willingham. Mercier said he had to make at least 60 edits before the CD was finished.

Willingham, though, says there were few issues on his end.

"I think they knew going in what the expectations would be," Willingham said. "I think it's good and it has the ability to be very popular and very current. It has some wonderful themes that are contained within this program."

It has sold less than 1,000 copies so far, Mercier said, though he's hoping the team's resurgence will help sales.

But the players didn't just cut a record and run. Instead, many of them have stayed involved in the project, attending Soulumination photo shoots whenever possible.

At one point Sunday, the 6-foot-6 Hemphill carried Ellie Jo around on his shoulders with Johnson snapping photos of it all for posterity.

"It was just awesome seeing the biggest guy there, how gentle and great he was with the kids," said John Nowicki, Ellie Jo's father, who calls himself an avid Huskies fan. "Sometimes it can be a little more difficult being around kids with special needs, but they did great."

Said Johnson: "It's such a great combination of these powerful men with these children who are really fighting things that may shorten their lives. It's such an amazingly beautiful pairing photographically."

The project has given Mercier a certain level of fame unexpected for a walk-on receiver — one wire-service story on the CD ended up on the front page of ESPN's Web site one day.

Asked about the attention, Mercier calls it " bittersweet," since his season has to date been a bust because a lingering hamstring injury that has kept him off the field. A senior, he has just eight regular-season games left.

But then he thinks about those kids, and any sense of feeling sorry for himself evaporates as quickly as it descended.

Johnson remembers one day handing Mercier then-and-now photos of a child who suddenly ran into developmental difficulties.

"I said, 'Let me show you this new child,' " Johnson said. "And there is Alex looking at the photos and standing there with tears in his eyes. I was like, 'Are you kidding me? This 22-year-old gets it.' "

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or - Seattle Times


Still working on that hot first release.



Mercier is a Seattle native who’s been building a following in LA since 2006. Along with soulful pop performances throughout the country his tunes have been featured on MTV’s “The Real World,” E!’s “Keeping Up With The Kardashians,” ABC’s “The Middle,” TV Land’s “High School Reunion,” TLC’s “L.A. Ink,” Nat Geo Wild’s “Alpha Dogs” and Oxygen’s “Bad Girls Club.”

He is also the voice on the title track of Nat Geo Wild’s Alpha Dogs as well as currently sponsored songs for the “L.A. Kings” and the “University of Washington Huskies.”

You might have seen him recently on “The Daily 10” on E!, being interviewed after rocking the “Gypsy” fashion event with Entourage star Jeremy Piven, or on one of the “Blackberry” commercials he did for Blackberry as the face of their 2011 national campaign for “The Torch.”

Mercier is currently working with DPS Productions CEO Anthony Dever on full length album under a newly formed independent label MA3 Productions. Album release is expected in early 2014