Charles Kent "Charlie" Wilson (born January 29, 1953) is an American R&B singer-songwriter-producer and the former lead vocalist for the Gap Band. As a solo artist he has been nominated for six Grammy awards, received a 2009 Soul Train Icon Award, and a recipient of a BMI Icon Award in 2005. In 2009, he was named Billboard Magazine's #1 Adult R&B Artist, and his song "There Goes My Baby" was named the #1 Urban Adult Song for 2009 in Billboard Magazine.
Wilson is the national spokesperson for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. As of July 2009, the PCF has raised over $380 million for research and funded more than 1,500 research projects at nearly 200 institutions worldwide. The PCF has set up a Creativity Award in Charlie's name which donates hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to researchers across the country. The Creativity Award allows for the development of creative science which conforms to PCF funding principles but is short-term and designed to allow development of otherwise unfunded but good ideas.
He was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At age 3, he was taught to sing in church which led the way for him to sing in his junior high school's choir, which was a precursor to his musical career with The Gap Band and later his solo career.
The Gap Band:
From the start of his career, Charlie and his brothers, Robert and Ronnie, helped define and popularize an upbeat form of funk music that was infectious and lasting with their group The Gap Band. The group's songs like "Outstanding", "Party Train", "Yearning For Your Love", "Burn Rubber on Me", "You Dropped A Bomb on Me", and "Oops Upside Your Head" are among their immense catalog and some of the most sampled songs in music history. After 15 albums The Gap Band announced their retirement in 2010.
When you hear Grammy-nominated artist Charlie Wilson's voice it reminds you of both the past and the present. He is one of the few artists whose vocal style and performance continue to influence some of today's most popular artists including R. Kelly, Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg, and Kanye West.
According to Wilson's website, www.unclecharliewilson.com, he is also known as "Uncle Charlie". This name was given to him by rapper Snoop Dogg, with whom he is good friends. Snoop and his wife, Shante, renewed their vows in April 2008 at Wilson's 20 acre ranch outside of Los Angeles, CA. The event inspired the music video to Wilson's hit "There Goes My Baby" which featured Snoop and his wife and was given to them as a gift symbolizing their relationship.
Wilson has been managed by Michael Paran, CEO of P Music Group 1 for the past 14 years. After years of mismanagement, Paran was responsible for rebranding the GAP Band in 1997 and repositioned them as one of the top R&B touring groups.
A few years later, Paran persuaded Wilson to embark on a solo career even though the odds were against them at the time. They independently released Wilson's first solo album Bridging The Gap, which scored them Wilson's first #1 Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary single, "Without You.". In 2004, Paran successfully negotiated a multi-album deal for Wilson with Jive Records. The first album from that deal, Charlie Last Name Wilson, debuted in the fall of 2005 featuring production from various hit-making producers including R. Kelly, Justin Timberlake, Will.i.am, the Underdogs, Kay Gee and The Platinum Brothers. The album, which was certified Gold by the R.I.A.A., produced the ubiquitous hit single, "Charlie Last Name Wilson."
Since then Charlie has consistently topped the Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary chart with singles from his follow up albums through P Music/Jive Records. His 2009 CD, Uncle Charlie, debuted at #2 on the Billboard Hot 200 and #1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart and received two 2010 Grammy nominations, Best R&B Album and Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male for "There Goes My Baby."
In December 2010, Just Charlie, was released and spawned the hit single "You Are" which held the #1 spot on the Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary chart for 13 weeks as well as 15 weeks consecutively on the Mediabase chart. The song earned two 2012 Grammy nominations, Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song giving Wilson, his wife Mahin, and their fellow songwriters Dennis Bettis, Carl M. Days Jr. and Wirlie Morris (who co-produced the track with Wilson) their first nomination as songwriters together. Wilson's delivery of this beautiful song and its performance at radio have confirmed that it is a wedding classic for years to come.
Wilson has been a sought after vocalist and contributor/collaborator to dozens of songs in the Hip-Hop, Rap, and R&B communities. Wilson appeared on The Biggie Duets together with R. Kelly on the song "Mi Casa". He has worked with Snoop Dogg on numerous projects. Their first collaboration was Snoop's 1996 album Tha Doggfather, on which Wilson appeared on four songs: "Doggfather", "Snoop Bounce", "Groupie" (also featuring 213 and Tha Dogg Pound), and "Snoop's Upside Ya Head". He was also featured on the Grammy-nominated single "Beautiful" (together with Pharrell) from Snoop's 2002 album Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss. Wilson appeared on "Signs" (with Justin Timberlake) and "Perfect", both songs from Snoop's 2004 album R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta) The Masterpiece. He was also featured on Ego Trippin', the 2008 album by Snoop Dogg, on the songs "SD is Out" and "Can't Say Goodbye", the latter was also performed live with Snoop and Wilson at 2008's American Idol Gives Back charity concert.
Wilson also appeared on Mystikal's Ghetto Fabulous album in 1998 and in 2 songs on UGK's 2007 Underground Kingz album: "Quit Hatin' the South" and "How Long Can It Last".
In 2011, chart-topping producer/artist, Kanye West, reached out to include Wilson on his highly anticipated CD, My Dark Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Wilson recorded over a dozen songs with Kanye and appeared on the following songs: "See Me Now," with Kanye West featuring Beyoncé; "All of the Lights," with Kanye West featuring Rihanna; "Lost in the World," "Runaway," and "Monster" with Kanye West featuring Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross. In addition to these songs, Wilson also appeared on five of the G.O.O.D. Friday Releases to promote the new CD including, "Lord, Lord, Lord" with Kanye West featuring Mos Def, Swizz Beatz, Raekwon and "Good Friday" with Common, Pusha T, Kid Cudi and Big Sean.All together Charlie Wilson's albums have sold over one million copies .
Support for the Troops:
Wilson has also opted to make it his personal mission to support American troops especially in the Middle East. Wilson and his band have traveled to Kuwait and Iraq four times (2009, 2010, and twice in 2011) taking his critically acclaimed, high energy show to dozens of bases throughout both countries and giving our service men and women a "little taste of home." Wilson's last trip in November 2011 was a special request by the U.S. Armed Forces for Wilson to return to the Middle East and perform at 5 bases in Kuwait to the thousands of troops stationed there before they returned home from their withdrawal from Iraq under President Barack Obama's campaign promise. A short video clip of the tour can be seen here
In 2008 Wilson also participated and performed on the ABC Television Special, America United: Supporting Our Troops which was taped at Camp Pendleton in California.
Wilson's struggle with alcohol and drug addiction consumed him in the late 1980s and mid-1990s after the breakup of the GAP Band. In 1994 he decided to enter rehabilitation and turn his life around seeking to live a clean and sober life which in turn would give him a new perspective on life. In rehab he met social worker Mahin. They married in 1995. As of 2011 Wilson has had 17 years of sobriety. His music continues to resonate with generations of musicians and rappers, many of whom clamor to recreate his soaring vocals, collaborate with him, or just achieve the level of artistic quality that he has maintained. He is recognized as a true 'living legend' and his chart-topping solo career has now surpassed the success that he earned with the GAP Band.
Wilson was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2008. Fortunately, the cancer was detected early, so he was able to begin treatment immediately. In typical Wilson fashion, he and his wife, Mahin, took this challenge head on and because he received an early diagnosis and was treated properly, he is now cancer free. However, he chose not to keep his diagnosis private. According to Wilson, "I've always been performing but now its time for me to start informing."
Beyond music, Wilson remains committed to promoting awareness and testing for prostate cancer. As a survivor of a disease that afflicts one in six American men--and one in three African American men--Wilson teamed with the Prostate Cancer Foundation in 2008 . "When I learned that the PCF had helped to build a global research enterprise of nearly $10 billion and funded more than 1500 programs at nearly 200 research centers in 12 countries, I knew I wanted to support their efforts," stated Wilson.
Today he continues to speak at events around the country, educating and encouraging men to get screened for the disease. He also supports the PCF through the sale of his signature fedora hats at his concerts and on his website at www.unclecharliewilson.com/shop.
With music and his work to combat prostate cancer, Wilson has been able to sustain the passion and drive that have been hallmarks of his legendary career. "I'm still living this dream," Wilson says. "I'm still going to the stage and I'm still having fun. I'm not there just to pick up the check. It's about the passion and the respect that I have for the game. It keeps me going."
Wilson has been nominated for six Grammy Awards.
2012 Grammy Nomination - Best R&B Performance "You Are",
2012 Grammy Nomination - Best R&B Song for "You Are",
2010 Grammy Nomination - Best R&B Album for Uncle Charlie,
2010 Grammy Nomination - Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for "There Goes My Baby",
2003 Grammy Nomination - Best Rap/Song Collaboration (with Pharrell & Snoop Dogg) for "Beautiful",
1997 Grammy Nomination - Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals (with Luke, Mr. X, Melle Mel, Yo-Yo, Chaka Khan, Da Luniz, Shaquille O'Neal, Quincy Jones & Coolio) for "Stomp",
Honors and awards:
December 2011 - Billboard Magazine names Charlie Wilson the #2 Adult R&B Artist for 2011,
December 2011 - Billboard Magazine names "You Are" the #2 Urban Adult Song for 2011,
December 2011 - Mediabase names Charlie Wilson #1 Adult R&B Artist for 2011,
December 2011 - Mediabase names "You Are" the #1 Urban Adult Song for 2011,
February 2010 - NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Male Artist,
December 2009 - Billboard Magazine names Charlie Wilson #1 Adult R&B Artist for 2009,
December 2009 - Billboard Magazine names "There Goes My Baby" the #1 Urban Adult Song for 2009,
November 2009 - Soul Train Icon Award presented to Charlie Wilson,
September 2005 - BMI Icon Award presented to Charlie Wilson,
May 8, 2011 - The County of Allegenhy, PA, declares "Charlie Wilson Day" by Councilman Bill Robinson,
May 7, 2011 - Atlantic City, NJ - Charlie Wilson receives Key to the City by Mayor Lorenzo Langford,
May 6, 2011 - The City of St. Louis, declares "Charlie Wilson Day" and includes a resolution in its minutes commemorating Charlie Wilson's success and accomplishments,
May 14, 2010 - The City Council of the City of Pittsburgh declared May 14 "Charlie Wilson Day" for his continued commitment to educating men about the importance of yearly checkups and early screening for prostate cancer.,
April 1, 2010 - The Cook County Board of Commissioners in Cook County, IL and Mayor Richard Daly declared April 1 "Charlie Wilson Day.",
February 17-27, 2010 - United States Certificate of Appreciation from the Area Support Group - Kuwait, Southeast Asia Tour for Outstanding Support of the Troops,
February 18, 2010 - Certificate of Appreciation from the Military Headquarters, Camp Buehring for Outstanding Support to the Troops in Kuwait,
November 27, 2009 - City of Buffalo, Executive Chamber Proclamation names November 27, "Charlie Wilson Day",
November 27, 2009 - 100 Black Men Greater Buffalo Chapter Making A Difference Health Award presented to Charlie Wilson,
November 2009 - The Soldiers of Fort Hood present a plaque to Charlie Wilson "For Outstanding Support during 'Your Salute to the Troops.'",
July 31, 2009 - Proclamation from the City of Cincinnati to Charlie Wilson for "Pampering the Spirit Of Cancer Survivors and Caregivers.",
July 16, 2009 - Indiana Black Expo presented the Rev. Charles R. Williams Excellence Award to Charlie Wilson for his commitment to educating the African American Community about Prostate Cancer.,
June 2009 - Tulsa, OK Key To The City presented to Charlie Wilson and the Gap Band,
June 2009 - City of Los Angeles, State of California presents The Trailblazer Award to Charlie Wilson,
April 6, 2009 - The Prostate Cancer Foundation created The Charlie Wilson Creativity Award which was presented to Adam Dicker, MD, PhD, Karen Knudsen, PhD - Thomas Jefferson University for their work on "Self-Seeding and Radiation Therapy: A New Strategy Against Metastatic Prostate Cancer - Preventing Circulating Prostate Cancer Cells from 'Re-seeding' in the Prostate May Change Behavior of Metastatic Cells.,
February 20 - March 1, 2009 - United States Certificate of Appreciation from the Area Support Group - Kuwait, Southeast Asia Tour for Contribution to significantly enhance the morale of the military and civilian personnel assigned and attached to the Area Support Group - Kuwait,
February 12, 2009 - Certificate of Appreciation presented to Charlie Wilson from the 3D Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Calvary Division For Outstanding Support to the Soldiers of the 3DC "Greywolf" Heavy Brigade Combat Team 1st Calvary Division,
June 5, 2008 - American Society of Young Musicians presented the Trailblazer Award to Hall of Fame Inductee Charlie Wilson,
June 25, 2005 - Museum of African American History present a plaque to Charlie Wilson and the Gap Band for their Tribute to Black Excellence,
February 8, 2004 - 23rd AMIC Grammy Celebration Honors the Gap Band,
May 11, 2002 - Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Acting Through Langston University presented to Charlie Wilson an Honorary Master of Fine Arts Degree,
June 19, 2001 - Sound City Music Achievement Award (KRNB Radio 105.7) to Charlie Wilson, "In Recognition of Your Outstanding Contribution to the Music Industry",
June 18, 2001 - Distinguished Alumnus Award from Langston University, Langston, OK presented to Charles Kent Wilson,
June 18, 2001 - Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame presented to The Gap Band the Award for the Arts & Humanities "In Honor Of Your 25th Year in the Entertainment and Music Industry.,
February 19, 2001 - County of Los Angeles Commendation to Charlie Wilson. Congratulations as an honoree of The 20th Annual Pre-Grammy Party