Entrepreneur, philanthropist and radio host, are just a few of the hats renowned Harlem raised recording artist Alyson Williams wears. With a voice so hauntingly pure, Alyson is able to transport you to your very own utopia while effortlessly showcasing she really can do it all.
Growing up, Alyson was surrounded by and exposed to great music. Her father, celebrated Jazz trumpeter and bandleader, Bobby Booker was a major influence in her life. It was at four years old, when Alyson first demonstrated her stage talents. With a strong passion for performing, Alyson was inspired to study dance under the supervision of, Arthur Mitchell, founder of The Dance Theatre of Harlem. She also studied with Alvin Ailey and performed with numerous other dance companies with the determination to enhance her skills. After years of hard work and dedication to perfecting her craft, Alyson was granted a scholarship to Marymount Manhattan College. She later attended City University of New York, as a member of the Aaron Davis Center for the Performing Arts Program and studied under John Lewis, of the Modern Jazz Quartet. It was in college, that Alyson also joined I.N.C.A. (Institute of New Cinema Artists) headed by Ruby Dee, Ozzie Davis and Cliff Frazier. Through I.N.C.A., Alyson was awarded an internship to work side by side with Benny Ashburn, manager of the world famous Commodores. Before she knew it, she was singing background in the studio with iconic artists such as, Melba Moore, Evelyn Champagne King and Kurtis Blow. After a plethora of collaborations with Kurtis Blow, Alyson became the quintessential “hook girl” for the rap and hip hop genre. Alyson’s internship turned out to be life changing. In a short amount of time, her talent was recognized. Alyson became an in-demand studio session singer. She also became a featured member of the 80’s vocal group “High Fashion” on Capital Records.
Following her path of success, Alyson instantly grabbed the attention of Def Jam label CEO, Russell Simmons and became the first female R&B artist to sign with the label. As a founding member of Def Jam, Alyson helped to further Russell’s vision. Fueled by excitement and passion, Alyson recorded two albums on Columbia Record’s “OBR” (Original Black Records) label and remained with the label when it made its switch to Sony. Her first album titled “Raw” spent an impressive 67 weeks on the Billboard charts, matched only by Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” and went gold in the UK. Altogether, the album produced four top five singles, one of which is the sultry and ever popular hit, “Just Call My Name.” Her second album, self-titled, featured songs produced by Al B. Sure and Babyface and also boasted several chart topping singles.
After finding success as a recording artist at such a young age, Alyson was inspired to return to her roots of theatre arts and dance and successfully performed in more than a dozen musical stage plays touring across the country. Aspiring to take her acting to the next level, Alyson pursued Broadway and starred in “Rollin on the TOBA,” “One Mo Time” and the “25th Anniversary Revival of the Wiz” directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner, George Fashion. After landing several prestigious roles, Alyson’s comedic timing, characteristics and true talent once again did not go unnoticed. She soon landed a gig at the country’s most iconic comedy club, Caroline’s as well as the starring role of “Power Woman” in “Menopause the Musical.” Alyson has appeared in numerous musical reviews and stage plays both on and off Broadway working with seasoned professionals such as, Lynn Whitfield, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Carl Payne, Hawthorne James, Clifton Powell, Melba Moore, Maurice Hines, Oba Babatunde, Kim Whitley, Eddie Levert and The Whispers. With every performance, Alyson is motivated to perfect her craft and become greater.
Never one to let grass grow under her feet, after leaving Def Jam, Alyson began to embrace her entrepreneurial side while still practicing her love for music. Alyson collaborated with award winning producer, Marcus Johnson and together they produced Alyson’s third solo album titled, “It’s About Time.” When it comes to entrepreneurship, Alyson is no stranger to confidently pursing her dreams. With an innate business mindset and a heart of gold, Alyson launched her own production company, A.W.P, A Woman’s Prerogative. A.W.P. allows Alyson to write musical stage plays, books, television treatments, produce concert series and much more. Having studied Communications Broadcasting for radio and television, Alyson has most recently embraced her communication roots and become an on-air radio personality on WHCR 90.3 FM The Voice of Harlem. Her show is called Love Notes with Alyson Williams, In The Chill Zone. Alyson’s show airs Tuesday’s from 8pm to 10pm and has featured stand-out musical guests including but not limited to Chaka Kahn, Nancy Wilson, Freddie Jackson, Najee, Terri Lynn Carrington, Gerald Alston, Mary Wilson, Christion McBride, Valerie Simpson, Regina Belle and Manhattan Transfer.
Blessed with an extremely rare and prestigious opportunity, Alyson had the honor of being mentored by the late Dr. Maya Angelou. Dr. Angelou gave Alyson the nickname, “Song Bird” and requested her presence to perform for private parties at her homes as well as major events worldwide. Following Dr. Angelou’s death, Alyson was asked by her family to perform at several memorials that were given in her honor. Alyson agreed without hesitation as her and Dr. Angelou shared a very special bond. She went on to perform one of Dr. Angelou’s favorite songs at the 2015 National Black Theater Festival Gala, as an extremely heartwarming video montage celebrating her life played in the background. Alyson was also invited by the United States Postal Service to perform The National Anthem and The Black National Anthem with the National Color Guard as a “Forever Stamp” was dedicated to Dr. Angelou complete with her image and powerful words. One of Alyson’s fondest memories is being chosen to headline a benefit at The Dr. Angelou School in Washington, DC. While hosting, Alyson was excited to perform for the guest of honor, former Attorney General, Eric Holder. Her performance, which included Holder’s wildly unexpected participation, was rich, memorable and received a standing ovation.
With a personality and voice so captivating and magical, Alyson has caught the attention of several other dignitaries and celebrities including First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as Ms. Oprah Winfrey. Alyson was hand-picked by Ms. Winfrey to perform for her students visiting from Africa on their United States college tour. Other memorable performances include a birthday celebration dedicated to former Essence Magazine Editor, Suzan Taylor, sharing the stage with music icons Valerie Simpson, Terri Lynn Carrington, Felicia Collins and Vivian Reed, as well as a command performance for veteran journalist, Audrey Bernard.
Other past iconic appearances include, Soul Train, The Jay Leno Show, BET on Jazz and the Mo’nique Show. Not slowing down, Alyson most recently appeared in Fox Searchlight Pictures, “Black Nativity” starring alongside Academy Award-winning actors Forest Whitaker, Angela Basset and Jennifer Hudson. One of Alyson’s biggest supporters is the Royal King of Morocco. Alyson and her band had the great pleasure of performing at five New Year’s Eve Galas and six Royal birthday celebrations For His Majesty, Hassan V. The culmination was an invitation to perform at the private inaugural fete of His Majesty Mohamad VI.
While music will always be Alyson’s deepest passion, she is also immensely passionate about encouraging community involvement and hosting. Annually, Alyson serves as Mistress Of Ceremonies for The Adelco Awards, The National R&B Music Society and Jazzmobile’s Great Jazz On The Great Hill in Central Park. Alyson’s hosting skills are well polished and have been sought out by Harry Belefonte, Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson just to name a few. Most recently, Alyson has taken on the challenge of showcasing the struggles to stay afloat in the ever-changing music industry through a reality show titled, “Life After DEF,” which is currently in pre-production.
When Alyson’s not performing in her sold out shows, “Nuttin but the Blues,” “Old Friends,” “Diva Palooza” and “The Alyson Williams Experience,” which have been featured at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, The Blue Note, Blues Alley, The Metropolitan Room, 54 Below, Red Rooster, Minton’s, Iridium, Dizzy’s Cocoa Cola Room and Yokohama Tower, she taps into her philanthropic side. Inspired by the magnetic relationship she shared with her dear friend Dr. Angelou, Alyson has found comfort in mentoring children and young adults. She works in the public and charter school systems and also offers vocal coaching and artist development training for new up and coming artists.
Raised with the mindset to dream big and create, Alyson is always looking for a new adventure. Currently, she is in the studio with producer Maurice Lynch completing a Jazz project entitled, “Summer Nights in Harlem” featuring Christian McBride, Christian Sands, Ron Blake, Ulysees Owens, Kirk Walum and Ray Chew. She has also had the honor of completing four new gospel songs and has just released, “On Time” (God Steps In). Future endeavors include an exciting r&b project, several house music tracks, a blues/southern soul project and a Christmas CD. Additionally, Alyson is working on launching a jewelry line as well as a line of inspirational notecards.
Blessed with an impeccable and soulful voice, Alyson is well respected by industry royalty and fans worldwide for her genuine heart, innovative mind, and honest lyrics. Her ambition and determination to create her own opportunities is precisely why she is successful, admired by many and is the next bankable brand. Love and light, peace and blessings, miracles and music all define the Alyson Williams experience.