“I’m still in shock,” says Alfonso Ribeiro of being crowned the winner of FOX’s other reality-TV singing contest – Celebrity Duets. Best known for his role as uppity Carlton Banks in the hit ’90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the 35-year-old actor-director proved he can also hold a note with the best of them – beating out celeb competitors Lucy Lawless and Queer as Folk star Hal Sparks in the show’s Sept. 29 finale. PEOPLE recently caught up with the newly minted singing sensation to talk about performing with his musical idols and taking his own show on the road.
How does the win feel?
All along I’ve said I just wanted to make it to the finals and I’ve just wanted the opportunity to perform with as many incredible legends as I could. Winning was just a bonus and the bonus ($100,000 prize money) goes to my charity Fresh Start. They do plastic surgery for kids who have facial deformities.
But you did say that you would love to have a record out. Are you pushing for that?
I’m going to work toward it. I also would love to put together a show and go out on the road and perform live. I love the connection you get with the audience.
Has your talent improved as the show went on?
I just got a lot more comfortable. I think, vocally, my range got broader, and I learned how to stay on stage and be more of a performer. With every artist that I performed with I had the opportunity to stop, listen and talk. I’d get a couple of tips each week.
What was the best tip you received?
Relax. Don’t push it. The voice is already there. If you actually relax your vocal cords they actually work better.
What was your favorite moment on the show?
Singing with Chaka Khan was a major highlight. Then it was topped again when I sang with Gladys Knight and Jon Secada.