The veteran singer brings a jazzy, mature, grown-folks vibe to “Summer Nights In Harlem” as well as sweet sultriness to the accompanying “flip-side,” the ballad, “The Romance Of You”. It’s the sound Ms. Williams has been known for, dating back to her years when she was the first R&B singer signed to Russell Simmons’ Def Jam Records during the 1980’s.
“Producer Maurice Lynch was putting together a Harlem jazz review and was referred to me by a mutual friend,” says Alyson. “After we completed the show, he offered two songs for me to record – ‘Summer Nights In Harlem’ and ‘The Romance Of You’. I loved both tunes and offered to cut them with top notch veterans in the music industry – keyboardist Ray Chew (musical director for ABC-TV’s Dancing With The Stars), longtime sax man Kirk Whalum as well as Grammy Award winning bassist Christian McBride.”
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.
While in college, Alyson joined the 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 Capitol Records.
Following her path of success, Alyson instantly grabbed the attention of Def Jam Records 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/OBR (Original Black Records) and remained with the label when the company was acquired by Sony Music Entertainment. Her first album, “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 5 singles, one being the sultry hit, “Just Call My Name”. Her second album, self-titled Alyson Williams, featured songs produced by Al B. Sure and Babyface as well as featured many 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 Faison. 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 revues 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 pursuing 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 – which allows Alyson to write musical stage plays, books, television treatments, produce concert series and much more.
While music will always be Alyson’s deepest passion, she’s equally passionate in regards to encouraging community involvement and hosting. Annually, Alyson serves as mistress of ceremonies for the Aldeco 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 Belafonte, Nick Ashford & Valerie Simpson – just to name a few.
When Alyson is not performing sold out shows, “Nuttin’ But The Blues”, “Old Friends”, “Divapalooza” 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, the Iridium Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Coca-Cola Room and the Yokohama Tower – she taps into her philanthropic side. Inspired by the magnetic relationship she shared with her dear friend Dr. Angelou, Alyson is a mentor for children and young adults. She works in the public and charter school systems as well as offers vocal coaching and artist development for new and up & coming artists.
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.
Summer Nights In Harlem is available now on: