By Michael Aushenker
Nearly seven years ago, a 21-year-old Alicia Gutierrez found a mentor in Malcolm Hayes, a convalescing soul-singer living in a Hollywood apartment near Thai Town, who, several generations ago, had been produced by Barry White and Johnny “Guitar” Watson.
“I’d clean his house, clean his records,” recalled Gutierrez. And in exchange, Gutierrez said, “he changed my life.”
Originally bent on becoming a bard, Gutierrez was totally transformed by her encounters with Hayes, who had toured with Little Richard, opened for Gladys Knight and played the Apollo Theatre before being sidelined by a stroke in his 30s.
At 27, the would-be poet Gutierrez now goes by the stage name Alicia G.
She will perform Saturday at Witzend in Venice, promising a mix of originals and soul standards by greats like Janis Joplin, Grover Washington Jr. and her biggest idol, Aretha Franklin.
Alicia G said she picked up on 1960s soul music from her parents while growing up in the east San Gabriel Valley.
“My dad’s from Mexico. To learn English, he listened to Sam Cooke,” she said.
During her youth, sounds that made Billboard’s Hot 100 didn’t leave much of an impression.
“I was always an old soul. At 13, I was obsessed with Bob Dylan,” she said.
The artist said she has no qualms about performing her timeless, if these days somewhat anachronistic, type of music.
“Older people come to my show, but so many younger people are really inspired by it,” she said.
Hayes, who resides in a Sherman Oaks nursing home, would no doubt be proud of the performer Ms. Gutierrez, who has already played the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip and Bar Pico, turned out to be.
At Witzend, Alicia G. will take the stage with Ambitious Music Consulate, a collective that includes two African-American musicians, a 21-year-old guitarist from Japan, and an Italian drummer.
She’ll just roll with it.
“A lot of what I do is in the groove,” she said.
Spoken like a true soul singer.
Alicia G. and Ambitious Music Consulate perform from 9:30 p.m. to midnight on Saturday at Witzend, 1717 Lincoln Blvd., Venice. Visit witzendlive.com.
Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ thing: Soul singer and “old soul” Alicia G brings originals and classics to Witzend on Saturday night
By Michael Aushenker