I’ve been wanting to do a feature on Stan Alston for about two years now. Stan is an internationally known recording artist and author. By the age of three Stan was singing in the church choir. His first musical appearance was at the age of eight in a community musical. His first club appearance was at the age of thirteen (he opened for a group called the Manhattans).
When not working as a solo artist (The Alston Experience), Stan works as a member of the singing group The Main Ingredient. With the recent passing of group founder and lead singer Cuba Gooding, Jr., the responsibility to keep the singing group alive rests with Stan. According to Stan, Cuba Gooding, Sr., asked Stan to carry the mantle. Stan worked hard and had to overcome many obstacles, but Stanley Alston owns the naming rights to the group’s name “The Main Ingredient.” You know what that means? It means that you will be seeing and hearing The Main Ingredient coming to a venue near you singing all of the hits as well as some new music.
Photo: Stan singing with The Main Ingredient
As an entertainer, Stan has traveled around the United States and Europe. Stan has shared the stage with such greats as Al Green, Phyllis Hyman, The Delfonics, The Stylistics and other well-known artists. Stan has performed off Broadway with actress Loretta Devine, in the life story of Thomas A. Dorsey the creator of gospel music.
Stan has a five octave range voice that is clear and angelic. His vocal range allows him to comfortable flow between a wide genre of music including R&B, Jazz, Rock and Gospel. Stan has written for AT&T, and it’s Reach Out America campaign. In addition, Stan has authored two books, “Faith, Love & Life,”and “Truth By Testimony.”
Stan has released more than a dozen CD’s and published more than 200 titles. He’s received awards for his writing and is a member of the International Society of Poets, along with affiliations with BMI, and ASCAP. Stan’s musical influences include Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Al Jarreau, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Phillip Bailey (Earth Wind & Fire), Al Green, and Billie Holiday.
Let’s learn more about the man himself through this exclusive interview with Black Men In America.com.
The Stan Alston Interview
BMIA.com: Hey Stan, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I want to jump right into the interview. In preparing for this interview, I’ve discovered quite a few folks, who may not be familiar with you or your music. I want to help expose these folks to you, your music and your books.
Stan Alston: That sounds great. Let’s get started.
BMIA.com: How long have you been in the music business?
Stan Alston: I’ve been in the music industry since 1967. I starting getting paid at the age of 13.
BMIA.com: Tell us about your background. I read that you grew up in Baltimore.
Stan Alston: I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, which is the city that gave us Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Thurgood Marshall, and Babe Ruth to name a few.
BMIA.com: How old were you when you first started singing?
Stan Alston: I was singing in church at the tender age of three year old.
BMIA.com: Who are some of the artists who you’ve worked with?
Stan Alston: I’ve worked with were Phyllis Hyman, Norman Connors, Al Green and The Manhattans.
BMIA.com: Who does Stan Alston listen to when he’s not performing?
Stan Alston: I like jazz and classical music – with vocals. I listen to the late great Al Jarreau, Adele and Russell Thompkins, Jr., of The Stylistics and the late Eddie Kendricks.
BMIA.com: Most folks don’t know that you’re an author. Tell us about your book.
Stan Alston: I have two books, my first book was “Faith, Love and Life” a collection of poetry and songs. My second book is “Truth By Testimony,” a collection of short stories, poems and songs.
BMIA.com: Stan, what do you want people to “get or learn” as a result of reading your book?
Stan Alston: I’d like people to realize that I’m the first author to write a book of poetry and songs and release them as musical products. My last CD, “Life” is the completion of the book and music trilogy titled “Faith, Love and Life.” I released five music CD’s under that book and have plenty more in the series. I’m currently working to release the book titled “The Reason I Live,” which is another collection of poems and songs.
BMIA.com: The other night I watching The New Edition Story. The show pointed out that after their first major tour, the group got a check for $1.87. How can artists protect themselves from being ripped off?
Stan Alston: Artists can protect themselves from getting ripped off, by using music organizations such as the American Guild of Authors and Composers, BMI, ASCAP, and other agencies to assist them with legal direction and understanding of the music business.
BMIA.com: Are music shows like “The Voice” good for the music business? Why or why not?
Stan Alston: Music shows like “The Voice” are excellent for people in that the show provides a “short cut” to the “ups and downs” of the music business if you are the winner. But the school to the real world is what to do if you don’t have these avenues and still have a great deal of talent. You have to learn how to market and to promote one’s self. I would advise any artist to never give up on their dream in becoming successful in this business journey.
BMIA.com: Let’s get back to your music. I love your CD “Life.” Tell us about it. Where can people buy your music and see you perform live?
Stan Alston: My CD “Life” is the completions of the titled series of the book “Faith, Love and Life.” It’s comprised of 16 original songs and 15 cover songs with a few of my favorite artists. I had some help with the original songs from Michael Westbrook, who used to work with the late great Whitney Houston. I also worked with Gary Augustus, who played with the group Lisa, Lisa and the Cult Jam. Last but not least, I worked with producer/writer Wayne Reddick, producer Mario Sprouse and Thomas Jones, Jr., the guitar player and producer formerly of the gospel super group The Mighty Clouds of Joy.
My music is available for purchase on Amazon, iTunes, Reverb Nation, CD Baby and Tidal.
BMIA.com: Is there anyone that you haven’t worked with that you would like to work with?
Stan Alston: I’d like to perform with Earth, Wind & Fire, the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Adele, and Charlie Wilson.
BMIA.com: What are the biggest challenges facing black men in America?
Stan Alston: I believe that knowing who you are and where you come from is the greatest challenge for black men in America. Everyone has a beginning beyond the great flood and the pyramids. If that information were available to reveal, the greatness and wonderful contributions we’ve made to civilization for the better of mankind. Our quest to share and help each other would be more open without fear for working with each other openly–no fear.
BMIA.com: Any final words or comments?
Stan Alston: Thank you for providing me this opportunity to give your audience an understanding of Stan Alston, aka the Alston Experience. And to give credit to my Great-Grandmother on my mother’s side of the family and her three daughters that include my mother who nourished me on Sunday mornings with songs by Mahaila Jackson, and other great musical artist of that time. My Grandfather on my father’s side whom I never met ran away from home to be with the circus at 14 years of age, and all those Alston’s before me. One last thing, I just finished the song “One Arm Bandit” to go with the book. I’m so proud of this article and my Mother shall be also. Thank you for this feature.
The following video features Stan singing Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You”
You can download and listen to Stan’s music at the following links:
Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/stanley-alston/id895167577
CD Baby: https://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/StanleyAlstonAkatheAlstonExper
Here I am with Chauncey Dunham (Dante Productions) and singer Stan Alston (The Main Ingredient) at the Circle of Caring SupportFashion Show in Palm Coast, Florida featuring survivors from all types of cancers. I was honored to sign copies of my book and hand out the Recognition awards to the models, many of whom were cancer survivors. Stan served as a co-host for the event.
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