Barry Alfonso

writer • interviewer • publicist • storyteller

My background as a professional writer is diverse. I believe this diversity is a strength I bring to any writing project. Through all I've done, there's been a common thread linking my work as a journalist, lyricist and interviewer. Basically, I like to tell stories.

I began my writing career in Southern California, regularly contributing features and music reviews to the San Diego Union and the Los Angeles Times. Next, I started selling articles to Rolling Stone and became assistant editor at Songwriter Magazine. Moving from San Diego to Los Angeles, I wrote bios and press materials for numerous record companies. At the same time, I pursued my goal of becoming a professional song lyricist. One of the songs I co-wrote became the title tune for the Tom Cruise film All the Right Moves.

From there, I was drawn to country music and moved to Nashville. One of the songs I co-wrote there, “In Between Dances,” became a Number One single for Pam Tillis.

I continued to seek new projects. I found particular success in writing liner notes for artists as different as Johnny Cash and Captain Beefheart. In 2005, my liner notes for the Peter, Paul and Mary box set Carry It On received a Grammy nomination. Branching out further, I became a regular contributing writer for the iTunes website, reviewing hundreds of new and back catalogue albums.

My longtime interest in American history has led to further writing, research and interview projects. I became involved in this field professionally when I was hired as an oral historian by the John Heinz Regional History Center after moving to Pittsburgh in 2001. In this position, I conducted in-depth interviews with business executives, labor activists, World War II veterans, Depression-era artists and many others. I’ve also written extensively on American history for Scribners, The Gale Group and other encyclopedia publishing companies.

All of these experiences have only increased my curiosity about people and how they live their lives. This in turn has helped me find new perspectives and vivid things to say about even familiar topics. Living in the West, South and East has given me a greater ability to communicate with different kinds of people.

I’ve worked on just about every side of the creative process. Songwriting has strengthened my ability to write bios and promotional copy. My experience as an oral historian has sharpened my skills at capturing the personality of someone in print. Describing a service or a project in a fresh and individual way is a challenge I enjoy – it’s all a form of storytelling.

In my writing work, I look for details and then connect them with something universal, rather than relying on stock phrases and copywriter language. I believe there should be a compelling human voice present in the written word – my job is to capture this on behalf of a client.

I’m a stickler for deadlines and factual accuracy. I take great pride in what I do.

That’s my story, in 500 words. Let me help you tell yours.

Barry Alfonso
P.O. Box 81942
Pittsburgh, PA 15217

© 2013 Barry Alfonso – All rights reserved.


Crazy Horse
– liner notes

Judy Henske – liner notes

Craig Bickhardt– a bio

Heather Kropf – a bio

JR Rhodes– a bio

Mary Worth – guest editorial
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)