Alice Tan Ridley
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Alice Tan Ridley

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band R&B Soul



The best kept secret in music


""America's Got Talent" star Alice Tan Ridley has enough talent to a be an international sensation, and her journey is just getting started."

Three months ago, you may have known today's guest as the subway idol. You may have known her as Academy Award nominee Gabby Sidibe's mom. But chances are, you probably know her now as Alice! Alice Tan Ridley just arrived home in New York from her run on "America's Got Talent" where she showed the country her vocal skills, her warm personality, and boundless talent. She was competing against contestants half her age, and yet she almost became one of the hit TV show's final 10.

Alice came by the studio to chat with Gayle about her life, her singing, and her plans for the future. Listen as Alice describes her wild ride with "American's Got Talent." - Gayle King, Oprah Radio

"Alice Tan Ridley Is America's Got Talent‘s Top Vocalist"

Following her impressive audition, New York City subway performer Alice Tan Ridley performed live on America's Got Talent Tuesday -- and the mother of Precious star Gabourey Sidibe did not disappoint. All three judges gave her a standing ovation after she sang "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladys Knight & the Pips.

"People are going to say to your daughter, 'Hey, you're Alice Tan Ridley's daughter,' "Piers Morgan told her.

But after the show, the judge worried that having an Oscar-nominated offspring could work against her. "Some will resent the fact that she has a famous daughter and other could vote for her because she has a famous daughter," Morgan told PEOPLE. "I saw them both at the Oscars and they seemed very happy and close."

Howie Mandel gushed over Ridley, calling her brilliantly talented, but said her competitor, Michael Grimm, was his favorite singer in the competition. Another singer, Lil Chris, 12, had the cute factor when he performed Ne-Yo's "Closer," but failed to fill the show's big stage, according to Morgan. -

"Not Just Gabourey's Mom, Alice Tan Ridley Shines Through Song"

If you've ridden the subway in New York City, there's a good chance you knew of Alice Tan Ridley long before she became known solely as "Gabourey Sidibe's mom" after her daughter wowed audiences with her explosive, Oscar-nominated turn in 'Precious.'

Although she is Gabourey's biggest supporter, Ridley is a star in her own right, and she's slowly taking the world by storm with her irrepressible, undeniable voice.

In her more than 20 years as a performer, Ridley has gained a loyal fanbase with her renditions of classics like Tina Turner's 'What's Love Got to Do With It' and Whitney Houston's 'Greatest Love of All.' One of New York City's best kept secrets was let out when Ridley appeared on 'America's Got Talent' and revealed her awe-inspiring voice to the rest of the nation.

The beaming songstress visited PopEater to talk about her "superstar" daughter, who she'd love to perform with, and to sing a clip from her new single, 'Winning.'

"I'm out to woo the hearts of the world," Ridley says of the future of her musical career.

Written by Zach Adam and Jenna Torres and produced by Zach Adam and Anthony Gallo, 'Winning' truly exemplifies Ridley's quest to conquer the music world, no matter what obstacles she may encounter. Listen to 'Winning' in its entirety below. -

"Alice Tan Ridley, Gabourey Sidibe's Mom, Rocks! See Her Subway Performances"

Before absolutely owning her 'America's Got Talent' audition last night, Alice Tan Ridley had only a few claims to fame: She's the 58-year-old mother of Oscar-nominated 'Precious' star Gabourey Sidibe, and she's a dedicated New York City subway performer.

"My daughter is a big star, but I'm still pursuing my dream, which is to become a great singer," Ridley said on the show. And sing great she did -- hard-to-please Piers Morgan deemed her the best audition of the day after her showstopping rendition of Etta James' 'At Last.'

Before her popularity explodes, Susan Boyle-style, in the next phases of 'Got Talent,' here's a look at Ridley's terrific subway performances, culled from nearly 100 YouTube selections. Whether she's bopping around and including spectators or simply sitting and letting her voice do the work, Alice Tan Ridley is one seriously passionate, talented performer. Our favorite videos, after the jump!

"My name is not on Gabby's paycheck," the singer told the New York Post. "When I come home at the end of the day, I have enough to pay my bills and feed my kids," she said. "People always say, 'Why don't you sing in clubs?' I tell 'em, 'This is my club.'"

Without further ado, here are some of her best subway performances: -

"America's Got Talent: What An Audition! Gabourey Sidibe's Mom Is Amazing!!!"

Talent is flowing through the veins of this family like WHOA!

Last night, America's Got Talent was graced by the voice of Alice Tan Ridley, whose daughter is none other than Precious star Gabourey Sidibe.

Alice sang the Etta James classic, At Last and we won't lie, we started tearing up when she belted out the first note!

Powerful! Heartwarming! Beautiful!

Gabby should be so proud of her mama!

Check out Alice's stunning performance above! - Perez Hilton

"'Precious' mom: Subway singer's 'Got Talent'"

Move over, Gabourey -- it's mama's time to shine. While auditioning for "America's Got Talent," Alice Tan Ridley -- Oscar nominee and hometown girl Gabourey Sidibe's mom -- wowed judges and audience alike with her stellar performance of the Etta James classic, "At Last."

"My daughter is a big star, but I'm still pursuing my dream, which is to become a great singer," Ridley, 58, said during Tuesday night's episode, originally filmed last April.

"I was singing since I was young, now I'm singing underground in the subway stations," she said, something she's been doing for the past 20 years.

Early on, Ridley used the money she made singing in New York City subways to supplement the income she made as a nursery school teacher and Department of Education teacher's aide, but has since made singing her full-time job. That's led to private gigs, performances abroad and a role in the 2005 movie "Heights," in which she played a subway singer.

Piers Morgan said Ridley's soulful "AGT" performance was "in terms of raw talent, [the] best audition of the day," after she brought the audience at the Hammerstein Ballroom to their feet.

She got three enthusiastic "yesses" from the judges and was given the go-ahead to compete in the Las Vegas rounds, which will air on July 6 and 7. (The Vegas episodes were filmed last month. The first live show airs on July 18.)

While waiting for her episode to air -- during which viewers will find out if she passed muster to compete in the Top 48 -- Ridley is back home in New York where life goes on as usual.

In her case, this means going back to singing in the subways. A frequent performer under the MTA's Music Under New York program, she is currently scheduled for four performances next week (see sidebar), the first of which is Monday night at 6 p.m.

As Ridley said on "AGT," "I love singing in the subways, I love to see the smiles on people's faces." - New York Post


1. Single - "Winning"
2. Album "Spread Your Wings" (Originals)



Alice Tan Ridley was born in Georgia into a musical family of 9 siblings, most of them artists. She has been captivating audiences since she was 3 years old. After moving to New York in 1971, raising a family and teaching handicapped children in the NYC school system, Alice resumed her singing career full time in 1992 beginning with a tour of Morocco, when she was invited by the Moroccan ambassador to the U.S. to sing touring the country. She has also performed in Argentina, Germany, Uruguay, and The Netherlands and throughout the USA.
In 1992 Alice started singing in the Subway in New York: 14th Street Union Square, 34th Street Herald Square and, the famous 42nd Street Times Square, covering many songs as I Will Always Love You, I Will Survive, Billy Jean, My Heart Will Go On, and other hits. Her legendary subway performances of stopping people dead in their tracks and rocking the station resulted in a flurry of You Tube videos, now reaching over 3 million hits. When Alice sings you couldn’t miss the huge crowd that surrounded her and fueled her with love and appreciation. She is known locally as the "New York City Subway Idol".
She sang Amazing Grace in the film about LA street dancers "Rize”, which showed at Sundance Film Festival, and performed a soul stirring rendition of America the Beautiful in the film "Heights”. In 2002 Alice won “30 Seconds to Fame”, FOX talent TV show, with her soulful rendition of Midnight Train to Georgia. In 2007, Alice won an Emmy for her part in the documentary “Military Families”.
At a concert at the United Nations for the UN Women’s Group, her voice was described as an “extraordinary instrument” of healing...with resonant overtones like a Tibetan singing bowl she opens the “chakras”.
Alice is a master interpreter of lyrics with an emotional depth and charisma that is rare. She embodies a rare combination of raw power, charm, sensuality, spirituality & pure funk.
Last year, after 20 years of performing in N.Y Subway, at the age of 58, she decided to take a leap of faith and audition for the show America’s Got Talent at which Alice wowed the judges and America with a phenomenal rendition of Etta James’ classis “At Last”. Ridley’s raw power and charm immediately resonated with both the judges and the audience, she was sent to Hollywood to compete in the finals. While she did not make it all the way to the end, she won the hearts of America and has built an unbelievable fan base. Like Etta James, Diana Ross and Tina Turner she is a long lasting Goddess of Soul, with enough personality, talent and a touch of funk to prove to be an unforgettable performer.