Recruited out of college to be the lead singer for the Manhattans, Gerald Alston's Sam Cooke-influenced tenor voice became the signature for that group, providing the Manhattans with their first major crossover success via top ten hits "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and "Shining Star." Alston's smooth voice and phrasing were among the best in soul music in the 70s and 80s, and it was a perfect match for the rather traditional songs recorded by the group.
As the Manhattans' recording career faded, Alston went solo in 1987 and released a well received solo debut on Motown. It yielded the top 10 hit "Take Me Where You Want To" as well as an excellent cover of the Eagles' "I Can't Tell You Why." He followed two years later with the even bigger hit "Slow Motion" from the album Open Invitation. He issued one more less successful album on Motown and and another Scotti Bros before rejoining former Manhattans leader Blue Lovett in a reformed version of the group in the 90s. Alston continues to front the most popular touring version of the Manhattans, touring the world 35-40 weeks per year.
In 2003, Alston and good friend Al Goodman (of Ray Goodman & Brown) began working on an inspired side project, a tribute album to Alston's vocal influence, Sam Cooke. After five years of off-and-on work and the help of arranger Travis Milner, saxman Gerald Albright and a number of other friends, the resulting disc, Gerald Alston Sings Sam Cooke, was issued in early 2008 on Alston's own LST Records. In 2015, Alston, by then the only remaining living member of the most popular version of The Manhattans, recorded a Gospel album that was released in 2015.
Both as a member of the legendary Manhattans and as a solo artist, Gerald Alston has proven to be one of the great soul music voices of the past half century.
By Chris Rizik
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