PARK CITY — A little 5th grade crush named Harry started taking trumpet lessons. Life has never been the same for Alexa Wilkinson.

"The minute I picked up that horn and played it, I was like 'Wow, this is something!'"

Wilkinson, who moved from New Jersey to Park City soon after the horn experience, picked up that passion for music and made a career out of it. After playing music, water polo and soccer for Park City High, Wilkinson knew that she wanted to pursue music and after school moved to Los Angeles to pursue that passion. She returns to Park City today to play as part of the Sundance Film Festival — not because she was a local but because her career shows so much promise.

"I am self-taught on the guitar and drums, if I really wanted to play bass I could do it. I can't do geometry, I can't do math. There are a few things I am good at and music is one of them."

Not only is she good but she may be great.

"I have worked really hard and I have an amazing team behind me. I have a lot of opportunities to make or break my career. That pressure makes me want to be a better song writer and a better musician. It is a really cool time in my life. I am still grounded but I can feel my career going somewhere."

The talk of "team" isn't lip service for Wilkinson. She loves the collaboration in the music business and credits her athletics background for helping her value teamwork.

She was delighted to learn she would be playing as part of the Turning Leaf Lounge series and will perform Friday at 6 p.m..

Another local, Joshua James, of Provo, played the climactic set at the Wine Bar (open to the public and free each afternoon and evening of the festival) and he too has established himself as a talent to be reckoned with, although his path to the same destination was completely different.

Growing up in Nebraska, the dark-haired 23-year-old with a brilliant smile landed at Utah Valley State College after a mission to Venezuela, and after returning he picked up the guitar and started playing.

"I bought a guitar and just taught myself how to play. It was a release, a way to express art or feelings or whatever. I listened to music but I never really played music."

The absence of his family left him with a need to express himself in new ways.

"It pushed my hand into music. Here I am recording."

Married to a Utah naive, James has resisted moving to further his career and sounds determined to make things work from his home in Utah.

"I really enjoy living in Utah — the mountains, the snow, the seasons." A student at UVSC, he was forced to leave school because of the demands of traveling and performing.

"This last year I was gone for four months of the year touring and playing. It was a pretty quick transition from where I am now and where I was two or three years ago."

Part of the success is due to his presence on MySpace where he attracted a producer from Los Angeles and the pair made a record. That record went on iTunes and has sold over 13,000 units. His time on open mic night at local spots moved up to larger crowds and the process of building a fan base and audience.

Next month, James may be playing in the United Kingdom and he plays to continue with his music career and enjoy the experience.

"I enjoy traveling and playing music on the road. We will see how far we can take what we have and make it into something positive and something people can relate to. I am just trying to get by and stay happy."


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