The Henderson Institute Graduate and Former Student Association is pleased to honor Gerald Alston, renowned lead singer of the Grammy Award Winning R & B vocal group, “The Manhattans, featuring Gerald Alston.” Gerald was born in Henderson, North Carolina November 8, 1951. He attended Eaton-Johnson Elementary School and Henderson Institute High School. Gerald has been married to his wife Edna Chew Alston for 41 years and they have four children.
Gerald grew up in the church where he learned his craft at an early age, as a member of the choir of St. Andrews Church in Henderson. During High School, Gerald and his cousin, the late Dwight Fields, formed a group called “Gerald Alston and the New Imperials”. The group performed in school talent shows, various other musical events throughout the city and surrounding communities, and several local churches. When the group performed in churches, they would change their name to “The Gospel Jubilees.”
After graduating from high school in 1970, Gerald attended Kittrell College in Kittrell, North Carolina. During the college’s Homecoming of Gerald’s freshman year, the Manhattans were commissioned to perform for this event. In need of recording equipment for the event, The Manhattans asked Gerald, as a local band owner, if they could borrow some of his recording equipment for the concert. When they went to retrieve the equipment, they heard Gerald singing and were so impressed with his vocals; they invited him to join the Homecoming Show and, even allowed him to open for the group. They were so
mesmerized with his natural talent; they offered him the opportunity to continue performing with the Group. He became lead singer after the groups’ former leader, George Smith passed away. As lead singer, he helped the group achieve their first Pop and R&B top ten singles that reached Gold and Platinum status for songs “Kiss and Say Goodbye”, “There’s No Me Without You” and the Grammy Award Winning song, “Shining Star.”
Gerald comes from a musically talented family. He is the nephew of Shirley Alston Reeves lead singer of the Shirelles, Johnny Fields of the Five Blind Brothers of Alabama and has several other musically inclined family members.
In 1988, Alston left the group to pursue a solo career and recorded five albums and ten singles for Motown and other record labels. His solo recordings include both Secular and Gospel music. Gerald has also collaborated with numerous nationally recognized artists including George Duke, Regina Bell, Brenda Russell, and Gerald Albright. To name a few of his professional accomplishments outside of his routine performances, he was the voice behind Spike Lees’ Movie “Do the Right Thing”, and several television jingles, including the likes of Miller Beer and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Gerald was inducted into the North Caronia Music Hall of Fame and the R & B Hall of Fame in 1999. In 2016, while performing at McGregor Hall in Henderson, he was honored with the” Key to the City of Henderson” and has received numerous other musical recording certifications.
Gerald has traveled the world performing in many major cities and countries such as, Africa, Asia, Japan, Korea, Manila, London, Switzerland, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Jamaica, Curacao, Saint Martin, and several other Caribbean Islands.
Gerald is also very much involved in his local community. For the past 14 years, he has spearheaded the JC Hines College Bus Tour which affords Jersey Inner-City Youth the opportunity to tour various HBCUs and other colleges and universities outside of Jersey City. Gerald has also been an active member of the Masons for the past 21 years and received his 33rd degree in 2022.
After 53 year of Performing, Gerald continues to tour the world leading the Manhattans along with group members Troy May and the newest member of the group, Lawrence Newton.
Congratulations to our Hometown Shining Star.