Look your son in his eyes and just admire him, then look at all the features that are surrounding him, look at his hair, his nose, lips, eyebrows and chin, engulf yourself in his beauty, inside and out of him,” sings hip hop artist L.E.X in “Black Boy,” one of 13 songs on his album “Black Tears and Smiles.” 

L.E.X (real name Alexis Dean) will showcase his heartfelt, kid-friendly songs at Overture Center’s Kids in the Rotunda on Saturday, Feb. 17. Free 45-minute performances occur at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the Rotunda Stage. 

A Milwaukee native now living in Lansing, Mich., L.E.X has worked in early childhood education for more than a dozen years, starting at a childcare center on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus where he worked as a student. To engage the children in his care, L.E.X frequently sings his lyrics in the classroom. His mission is to empower kids and adults to chase their dreams.

L.E.X came to Madison during the 2018/19 school year for a Schools of Hope AmeriCorps Project, where he worked at Mendota Elementary School. He often wrote music while tutoring the kids.

“I wrote about test preparation, attendance and Black excellence,” he said. “My songs come from living life. They include messages I needed to hear when I was a kid that I want to share with the world.” 

L.E.X was honored with the Excellence in AmeriCorps Award for the Most Impactful Member Service. Prior to winning this award, he was honored by Gov. Tony Evers with the 2019 AmeriCorps Member of the Year award. This recognition caught the attention of Kids in the Rotunda organizers.

While L.E.X has performed in many locations, including at Milwaukee’s Summerfest and the NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, Kids in the Rotunda was one place where he had really wanted to perform for a long time. He got that opportunity in January 2023.

“Kids in the Rotunda was an amazing experience—from the intimate Rotunda Stage performance space to the kind and welcoming families,” he said. 

At his upcoming performance, L.E.X will perform hip hop and rapping songs about family, school and emotions as well as letter recognition and counting from his new album, “Say Your Dreams with a Smile,” available Feb. 9. Families will walk away with educational and entertaining songs they can sing together at home or in the car.