The world is blessed with many talented song stylists, but only a few great voices. Ali Ollie Woodson, Sr. was recognized as one of the most distinguished voices in the music world. Ali Woodson loved what he did…and that’s just about everything. He captured the attention of audiences’ worldwide. A multifaceted performer, he played several instruments including keyboards, bass, and drums; he wrote his own music, lyrics, and arrangements, and produced recordings.
His incredible vocals and unbelievable range led him to work with many of the other greats in the industry. He performed with the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Patti Austin, “The Godfather of Soul” James Brown, Lou Rawls, Bobby Womack, Howard Hewett, The Ojay’s, Doc Powell, Johnny Gill, Jimmie Jam and Terry Louis, Ralph Tresvant, Chris Martin, Ann Nesby, Al Green, Charlie Wilson and The Gap Band, The Four Tops, Rachelle Ferrell, Sam Moore, and many others.
Ali also added acting to his resume. He appeared in many episodes of “Amen” & “The Jamie Fox Show”, had a small role in “The Little Richard Movie” and appeared in several plays around the country, the most recent being J.D. Lawrence’s “The Clean-Up Woman”.
Ali Ollie Woodson, Sr. was born September 12, 1951 in Detroit, Michigan to Gladys Presberry and the late Robert E. Woodson. At the age of five, he moved with his mother to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and later to Town Creek, Alabama.
His sister, Christine, recalls him singing the song “I Got a Woman Way Cross Town” at the age of two. When he attended Town Creek Elementary, the principal would stop classes to allow him to sing to the whole school. At the age of four, Ali started singing in the local church choir. It was there that he performed inspiring harmonic melodies. At seven years old Woodson entered and won first prize in a talent show, the first of many such rewards to come throughout his school days.
He graduated in the late 60’s from Central High School in Courtland, Alabama and went on to serve in the United States Army at the age of 17. At the age of 19, Ali performed with legendary groups such as “The Drifters’ in the early 70’s, and later replaced Teddy Pendergrass in the group “The Blue Notes”.
After attending a Temptations’ show in 1993, Ali went backstage to see Melvin Franklin. He was asked to sing, and when he did, the group’s founder, Otis Williams, told Ali to go home, get his clothes, and join the Temptations on the road. For over 13 years, he was the driving force behind the legendary group “The Temptations.” As lead singer, Ali had to fill the shoes of two of the most powerful singers of all time, David Ruffin and Dennis Edwards. He not only filled those shoes, he took it to the next level by creating a style all his own, which is now synonymous with the name “Temptations.” Contributing original material for many great new songs, he put the Temptations back on top of the Pop and R&B charts with his “Treat Her Like a Lady,” which went gold. His intoxicating delivery of “Treat her like a Lady,” continues to be a Pop and R&B favorite all over the world.
Throughout his life, Ali had the opportunity to assume a father’s role in the lives of many children. He will always be their loving father.
In 1986, Ali met the love of his life, Juanita Browne. They married in 1992, and to this union two children were born. They shared over 17 years of marriage. Ali will be dearly missed not only by his family and friends, but also by all of his fans.
His father Robert E. Woodson and his sister Bobby Jean Woodson precede Ali in death. He is survived by his wife, Juanita Browne Woodson, their children Ali Ollie (A.J.) Woodson, Jr., Aliah Woodson, and his children Jhae Ali Thompson, Sophia White (John), LaTeasha DeGuzman, Justina, Keisha. His mother, Gladys Presberry, his sister, Christine Lampkin (Cornell), special cousin Wrise Fuller, five grandchildren, and a host of relatives, family, special friends, and fans also survive him.