In just a few short minutes on America’s Got Talent, Alice Tan Ridley boldly made herself known to the world when her phenomenal rendition of the Etta James classic, “At Last,” wowed the judges, blew away the audience, and caused the entire nation to take notice. Ridley’s raw power and charm immediately resonated with the judges, and she was sent to Hollywood to compete in the finals. For many, this was their first exposure to Alice’s gifted abilities, despite her many years of experience as a singer. Millions of fans around the world viewed her performances on YouTube. Such a captivating performer could only go unnoticed by the masses for so long by staying underground. Alice was one of New York City’s best-kept secrets: a jewel kept hidden deep below the city in the subway platforms. For over 20 years, Alice supported her family with the money she earned by busking. At 58 years old, Alice was taking her craft out of the subways where she performed for 20 years and into the eyes and ears of the greater public.
The New York Post, People Magazine, Perez Hilton, TIME Magazine and Oprah Radio all gave glowing reviews immediately after hearing Alice’s voice. Gayle King remarked on Oprah Radio: “Alice showed the country her vocal skills and boundless talent. She has enough talent to be an international sensation.” People Magazine also showed support, saying, “Alice Tan Ridley is AGT’s top vocalist!” Ridley carried this motivation throughout the rest of the show, and while she did not make it to the top spot, she won the hearts of America and has built an enormous fan base along the way.
Alice’s charismatic stage presence stretches well beyond her vocal abilities, making enamored crowds fall in love with her personality as she shares stories of her journey. 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. As Howie Mandel said to Alice after her “At Last” cover: “you deserve to be heard by much more than everyone on the train.”
Alice was born in Georgia into a musically talented family of 9 siblings, most of whom have become 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 focused upon her singing career in 1992 when she began singing full time in the New York City subway stations – Union Square, 34th Street, and the famous 42nd Street Times Square station. Audiences gathered daily as Alice covered many songs such as ‘I Will Always Love You’, ‘I Will Survive’, ‘Billy Jean’, ‘My Heart Will Go On’, and other familiar favorites. Her legendary subway performances – often stopping people dead in their tracks and rocking the station – resulted in a flurry of YouTube videos, which continue to attract millions of viewers. Whenever Alice sang, she consistently drew a sizable crowd, transfixed by her powerful voice, surrounding her and fueling her with love and appreciation. She was known locally as the “New York City Subway Idol.” A 2010 feature in the New York Post described her ‘electrifying R&B act’ after the author witnessed ‘another rousing show in the Times Square underground’.
Many influential people were impressed after hearing her subway performances, resulting in invitations to present concerts around the world, beginning with a singing tour of Morocco arranged by the Moroccan ambassador to the US. This was followed by performances in Argentina, Germany, Uruguay, The Netherlands, and throughout the US.
Alice’s reputation spreads by word of mouth. Her appeal is confirmed by her many honors. Alice sang “Amazing Grace” in Rize, the David LaChappelle film about LA street dancers. She performed a soul stirring rendition of “America the Beautiful” in the film Heights in 2005. In 2002 Alice appeared on 30 Seconds to Fame, a FOX Television talent competition, and won with her soulful rendition of “Midnight Train to Georgia.” In 2007 Alice won an Emmy for her part in the documentary Military Families.