How Did Christie Brinkley's Daughter Alexa Ray Joel Get Her Name?

Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley's daughter Alexa Ray Joel is unrecognizable today, chiefly because she (fortunately) inherited the best qualities of both parents. Like her supermodel mom, Alexa is a striking beauty. And while she never considered a modeling career herself, she did appear on the runway during New York Fashion Week in 2015, in support of the American Heart Association. 

Like her dad, Alexa is an accomplished singer-songwriter who began her performing career at age 19. She's taken the stage a number of times with Billy, including for a duet of "New York State of Mind" at Madison Square Garden in January 2023 (seen here on YouTube). Alexa also covered one of her father's biggest hits, "Just the Way You Are," giving it her own unique flair. As she told Chorus and Verse, after growing up watching her father compose songs, "I definitely believe that music is something that is in my blood, something that I was born to do." 

Not surprisingly, music played a huge part in choosing Alexa's name, as well. Her middle name is an homage to the legendary musician Ray Charles, whom Billy has idolized all his life, describing him as "a total natural and one of the greatest singers of all time" to The New York Times. But Billy never imagined that his baby name choice would lead to the opportunity of a lifetime. 

Alexa Ray Joel is the star of her father's songs

Naturally, the news of a baby for the Uptown Girl and the Piano Man themselves made headlines, and their choice of name drew raves as well — including from her namesake. Another music legend, Quincy Jones, alerted Ray Charles that Billy Joel had named his daughter, Alexa Ray, after him. A flattered Charles offered to work with Joel if the opportunity arose, as he told The New York Times. In less than 24 hours, Billy penned "Baby Grand," a lush, bluesy number about the instrument that's "been good to me" through the highs and lows of life. 

Charles and Billy made a memorable duo on vocals and piano for the song, which appears on "The Bridge." This was the first of several times Alexa Ray inspired her dad's art. When Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley's marriage fell apart in 1994, Alexa was just 7  — old enough to ask those big questions parents dread. In an interview with "60 Minutes Australia," Billy explained that "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel") was written in response to Alexa asking, "What happens when you die?" 

He came up with the perfect answer: "The best way I could explain it is when you go into other people's hearts." How does the grown-up Alexa feel about the poignant number now? "It's one of her favorite songs," Billy affirmed. Then, of course, her name appears once again in "The Downeaster 'Alexa'," Billy's tribute to the struggling fishing community of eastern Long Island. 

Alexa still sings her mom's praises

Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley have both gone on to other marriages, which produced half-siblings for Alexa Ray: Brinkley has a daughter and son by her second and third husbands, while Joel has two young girls by his current wife, Alexis Roderick. But they remain close friends to this day, and, of course, they're extraordinarily proud of their daughter. She, in turn, is equally devoted to both parents. True to her musician-inspired name, she sang her mom's praises (literally) on her February 2 birthday with an Instagram post. It contained the lyrics to "A Song for Christie Lee," a tune she composed for the occasion. In part, the lyrics read: "When you're in their sights, nobody can despair / And even through the hardening of time / You can't hide the golden beauty / From this mother o' mine / And even if you're framed in black and white / You're the sunshine streaming bright / You spin darkness into light."

The message Alexa added at the end of her post would melt any mother's heart: "I love you more than I can even put into the words of this song, though I'm still trying! They'll never know you, or cherish you, like I do." In response, Brinkley wrote, "Oh Alexa my precious little love, this is so lovely! I'm so touched by your words. I love you my sweet sweet songbird." We have a feeling the late Ray Charles would have been proud of his namesake as well.