Working in a wide range of styles, from jazz to rock to classical, Blonde Afro is the stage name of composer, songwriter, and photographer Rick McAlister.
As an only child who grew up in the middle of nowhere in the great Midwest, music was his outlet and way of staying entertained for hours as a kid. He started recording songs at the age of 11, and by his early twenties he had written music for several professional plays in Ohio.
In 2004, McAlister released his first album, Surplus Cheese. The collection of satirical and political songs drew rave reviews from some and head-scratching from others. The album featured dryly humorous lyrics set to an electronic big band accompaniment. The pseudo-Christmas song called “Li’l Drummer Boy” ended up being played on radio stations across the country.
2009 welcomed the release of My Own Little World, his second album. This collection of highly personal songs drew from an eclectic mix of influences, including rock, alternative, blues, funk, and folk. It was recorded during a 3-year period in which the singer lost 5 family members and experienced the sudden end of a long-term relationship. Nonetheless, the music was certainly not all doom and gloom. Ultimately, it had a sense of energy and hopefulness that McAlister hoped would resonate with listeners.
Along the way, McAlister has also written everything from wedding music to advertising jingles, and in 2009 his orchestral piece Every Dog Has His Day was premiered by the Jubilee Orchestra in Asheville, NC.
2013 saw the release of his third studio album, Troubleshoot the Moon, which was released under the stage name Blonde Afro. Subsequent to this record, McAlister went back to releasing under his own name, with his fourth and more recent release being The Lavender Album.
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