The American singer, who famously quit Celebrity Big Brother in 2015, took home nearly £1,500 a minute performing hits such as If You Were Here Tonight and others, says that is nothing compared to what he would be able to earn if he was the same artist but the colour of his skin was white.
He laments the lack of black music executives at the top of record labels in the US and praises his predominantly white audiences in the UK for being more open to R&B music.
Raised in rural Mississippi, O’Neal has never forgotten how hard his mother worked as a maid to support him and his five siblings. His greatest accomplishment, he says, was buying his mother the home he had always wanted her to have.
American singer Alexander O’Neal, pictured, earned £130,000 for a 90-minute set
Now 63, he lives with wife Cynthia, 55, in Manchester and will begin performing ‘Alexander O’Neal The Resurrected Tour’ in April. Tickets are available from seetickets.com.
What did your parents teach you about money?
To be responsible and pay your bills. My father worked on a barge on the Mississippi River transporting gravel, but he drowned in 1953 when my mother was pregnant. She raised me and my five siblings alone. She was a maid for $8 a day. It was tough for her but she did it. Money was tight. We had everything we needed, but we never had any extras.
What was the first paid work you ever did?
When I was nine years old I would go to work with my mother at the weekends. While she cleaned houses I would cut the grass outside to earn a couple of extra dollars. I enjoyed it because I was with my mom.
The people she worked for lived in mansions in the rural South. I remember clearly turning to my mother once and saying: ‘One day, I am going to buy you a big house and a nice car.’ I saw how hard she worked and I had so much respect for her. All I wanted to do was to please her. Thank God, I was eventually able to buy everything I wanted her to have. She is 86 years old now and she is still ticking along. I make sure she does not want for anything.