TODAY

TODAY   |  December 13, 2013

Alexa Ray Joel: ‘I’m such an introvert at my core’

The singer-songwriter and daughter of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley opens up to TODAY’s Matt Lauer about her family, career and how she hopes to inspire others.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> straight ahead we're going to catch up with the very talented alexa ray joel . but first, let's take a look at her story. she is the only daughter of two american icons. billy joel and super model christy brinkley. but despite their close and loving relationship, alexa ray struggled growing up in the shadow of their celebrity. she faced scrutiny following an overdose in 2009 and for making the decision to have plastic surgery . but the 27-year-old made it a priority to move past her stumbling blocks often using her story to empower young women . and she makes music. even delivering a version of her dad's classic hit, just the way you are.

>>> good morning nice to see you.

>> good morning. nice to see you.

>> i know both your parents a little bit. i watched you grow up from a distance. are you enjoying making me feel old this morning.

>> no, you look like a spring chicken .

>> how are you doing?

>> i'm doing great.

>> you seem to be in a really wonderful place right now.

>> thank you. yes. it took me a minute. being the daughter of such iconic figures, it took some growing into and just to be in the spotlight. you're exposed to the spotlight at such a young age and that of course can be challenging. but, you know -- i don't know --

>> you made it through.

>> i made it through.

>> it's nice. people probably warned you about that pressure when you were very young. but for some reason, it still was hard to deal with, especially in your teen years.

>> absolutely. yeah. i mean, it was definitely a struggle. i was a late bloomer and i was painfully shy and i don't know why i decided to go into performing because i am such an introvert at my core. but music has always been my solice and where i go to and it's pulled me through everything.

>> when you say pulled me through everything and saved you, one of the other issues, not only that you're the child of very high profile people but when you went through tough times alexa it was until the headlines.

>> yeah.

>> so you had to wake up and read about a pill overdose and plastic surgery . when you think now and you look back and you've got -- by the way, younger siblings.

>> absolutely.

>> you have a 15-year-old sister and jack is how old now?

>> jack is 19. and taylor is, gosh, 15 already.

>> 15, yeah.

>> but she just started modeling and she has this blossoming career.

>> do you offer them advice?

>> of course. i advise her constantly. she is always compared to mom. and she is just her own bright blossoming beauty. but she does look similarly to mom. so there's always -- you always feel such a pressure. i was always compared to my father of course piano man, piano girl. i'm a musician. you're always fighting for your own identity and hopefully -- i do a lot of work with young women . they write me on facebook and social media and i just want to be able to be a lending hand to young women to show them that we all go through this. it's okay to be vulnerable and okay to go through personal struggles. there's light at the end of the tunnel .

>> what i think is nice about where you are now -- you're on the cover of a magazine here in new york and you're on the cover and nowhere on the cover does it say billy joel 's daughter or christy brinkley's daughter. it's just you.

>> it's a relief.

>> people are viewing you as your own woman which i think has got to make you feel great.

>> it 's wonderful . everybody deserves the opportunity to be seen for who they are in their own light. and everyone is really -- i know there was, you know, a time i was sort of in a darker place but i'm really grateful. there's been much amazing feedback for this new song just the way you are. my tribute to dad which i'm going to sing. it's been amazing feedback and i'm just grateful for this welcoming response.

>> i think it's so gutsy of you to sing that song. you said for awhile that music found you. you didn't find music. it was in your family. you also said that some of your dad's songs are incredibly personal to you. some were written about you.

>> yeah.

>> when you take on this song, was it nerve racking?

>> you know what, it was sort of a relief, matt, honestly. there was always this sort of pressure and i think this sort of am biggofeeling of is she going to do her father's material and i'm such a huge fan of his work musically as an artist myself but i always felt like have to walk on egg shells. even at live shows when he used to play, i wanted to do his material but i wasn't confident enough yet. how can i pull this off. there's going to be so much harsh criticism and then with gap, to have this opportunity to be in one of their amazing cool commercials, they let me run with it artistically. they gave me so much creative freedom and i think thanks to that, i was able to kind of put my own stamp on it. if it was done -- just the way you are is done just the way my father does it it would have been like she's not really making it her own and wouldn't have been a proper tribute to him.

>> we'll hear it in just a little while. it's nice to have you here.

>> nice to be here.

>> we can't wait to hear the song.