Some people might say that after notching ten No. 1 singles, 11 Grammy® Award nominations, a New York Times best-selling memoir, and ongoing soldout, coast-to-coast arena tours, Charlie Wilson has proven his point… and he isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon.
“I’ve been in this game for many years,” reflects the Gap Band founder and solo star. “I’ve had some big hit records and sold a lot of records. But I need to still show people that I’m in it. It’s championship time.”
Wilson underscores that declaration with his latest album, In It to Win It (P Music Group/RCA, Feb. 17 2017), which was nominated for three 2018 NAACP Image Awards: Outstanding Male Artist; Outstanding Duo, Group, or Collaboration; and Outstanding Album. The set boasts two No. 1 singles, which hit two different Billboard charts in April 2018. “Chills” was No. 1 on the Adult R&B Songs chart and “I’m Blessed,” featuring T.I. was No. 1 on the Hot Gospel Songs. This was the first time an artist had two different No. 1 songs on these charts at the same time. “I’m Blessed” was also nominated for a 2018 Billboard Top Gospel song.
Wilson continues his reign as “Uncle Charlie,” the lovable nickname originally given to him by Snoop Dogg, by being one of the most highly sought-after adult entertainers for today’s top Hip-Hop and Pop artists. Most recently Wilson joined Kanye West and Kid Cudi to sing the chorus on the track “No Mistakes” from West’s new album, Ye, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Wilson also united with long-time collaborator and friend Snoop Dogg on the track “One More Day” from Snoop’s Bible of Love gospel album, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart.
As a tribute to his 22 years of sobriety, helping homeless addicts, and educating the African American community about prostate cancer, Wilson was honored at the 2018 NAACP Image Awards with the first ever Music Makes A Difference Award. “It was truly an overwhelming experience to receive this award,” stated Wilson. “There are numerous people who have been by my side these last 22 years, and the most important person is my wife Mahin.”
Wilson also received a Rhapsody & Rhythm Award in May, 2018 from the National Museum of African American Music, scheduled to open in Nashville in 2019.
“’I’m Blessed’ says exactly where I am in my life, blessed to still be making music that people want to hear,” says Wilson. “2018 has been a tough year for so many people around the world, so I’m proud to release a song to remind us that we can all find some blessings in our lives. And having T.I. bring his flavor, sharing who he is and how his journey is filled with blessings, is an added bonus.”
Breaking away from the tradition of using his name in the album title, Wilson also recruited an A-Team of guests for his seventh solo album. Joining T.I. as firsttimers in that circle: Pitbull, Wiz Khalifa, Robin Thicke, and Lalah Hathaway. Wilson, who executive produced the 13-track album along with longtime manager, Michael Paran, reunited once again with The Cartoons (Emile Ghantous, Steve Daly and Keith Hetrick), Gregg Pagani, and Wirlie Morris on the creative side. New to the mix this time around: fellow songwriter/producers J.R. Rotem (Jason Derulo, Gwen Stefani, Empire), Eric Hudson (Kanye West, John Legend), and Rob Knox (Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, T.I.).
Together, the team crafted a package that fully encompasses Wilson’s unlimited reach. He explores the synergy between pop and R&B with Thicke on the midtempo “Smile for Me” (“You can’t tell our vocals apart sometimes,” says Wilson). Then he and Pitbull double-down on the party track “Good Time.” And who knew rapper Wiz Khalifa possesses an impressive singing voice, which he shows off on the noteworthy “Us Trust.” Another “oh wow” moment is the duet between Wilson and Lalah Hathaway on the scintillating “Made for Love.” Their whattook- so-long pairing calls to mind the magic conjured between Lalah’s late father/soul legend Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack.
Before launching his solo career in 2000, Wilson racked up a string of hits in the late ‘70s and ‘80s as front man with the Gap Band. The pioneering R&B/funk group charted such frequently sampled classics as “Outstanding,” “Yearning for Your Love,” “Burn Rubber on Me,” “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and “Early in the Morning.”
Wilson signed to Jive (now RCA) in 2004 after landing his first No. 1 Billboard Adult R&B hit in 2000, “Without You.” Since then, he’s released six solo albums and become a consistent chart presence. His tally of 19 hits boasts seven more Adult R&B No. 1s. Among them: “My Love Is All I Have,” “You Are,” and “There Goes My Baby.” While garnering 11 Grammy nominations and other industry accolades, including BET’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, Wilson has stayed busy on the road, as he is a major concert draw, claiming the crown for top winter tour of 2015 with his Forever Charlie arena tour, or in the studio.
In the years between the Gap Band’s heyday and his solo success, Wilson survived drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness, and prostate cancer. He chronicled his odds-defying life and career in his 2015 best-selling autobiography, I Am Charlie Wilson. Sober now for 22 years, the singer says, “I wouldn’t have believed I’d be where I am right now. That’s why I shout every night because I thank God for allowing me to be here.”
“I’m looking forward to continue touring and making new music. “And, I’m not stopping there, because I Am In It to Win It."