Where Are They Now: Charlie Wilson

Charlie Wilson’s career has spanned five decades. In the late 70s, Charlie and his brothers Ronnie and Robert hit the charts for the first time as the Gap Band with their album The Gap Band featuring the hits “I’m In Love” and “Shake”.

The Gap Band had it’s greatest success in the 80s as Charlie and his brothers put together a series of albums that featured numerous hits that were near the top of the R&B, Dance, Hot 100 and Billboard charts. Some of the most recognized hits from the band in that period are “Burn Rubber on Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me),” “Outstanding,” “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” “Yearning For Your Love,” “Early in the Morning,” “Party Train,” “Wednesday Lover,” and “All of My Love.”

Charlie’s career as a musician suffered in the early 90s as he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. In 1994, Charlie changed his life forever when he checked himself into a rehab center. While there, he met a social worker named Mahin, who would change his life forever and he would eventually marry. Today Charlie has been sober for over 19 years.

Michael Paran, who also managed The Gap Band, persuaded Charlie to give himself a chance at a solo career. This seemed like a risk to Wilson at the time, but ended up giving him his greatest rewards. As his solo career progressed, Wilson signed with Jive Records in 2004 after landing his first No. 1 Billboard Urban AC hit in 2000, “Without You.” He struck Gold with his Jive debut album, 2005’s Charlie Last Name Wilson, and the title track was a Top 15 R&B single. In 2009 Wilson’s album, Uncle Charlie, received two Grammy nominations: Best R&B Album and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for the hit single “There Goes My Baby.” In 2010 Wilson’s next album, Just Charlie, debuted with his biggest hit, “You Are.” The popular song ran for 13 consecutive weeks at No. 1, and received two Grammy nominations for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance. He is the recipient of six Grammy nominations, the 2005 BMI Icon Award, the 2009 Soul Train Icon Award and was honored with a Living Legend Award by the Trumpet Awards in January 2013. His many decades of accomplishments as an artist were further recognized in 2013 as received the acclaimed BET lifetime achievement award for his years of influence in the music industry.

Charlie continues to perform and currently averages 75-100 shows a year in a variety of venues. He has become a spokesman for Prostate Cancer Foundation in 2008 after beating the disease and uses music his music as a forum to raise awareness.

Charlie Wilson says the concept of his latest album, Love, Charlie, can be defined by one sentence: “The whole world needs inspiration.” Perhaps we should take inspiration from the music legend, Charlie Wilson. A man who has overcome so much to contribute so much to decades of fans and influence many of today’s most popular artists.

By Samantha Wagner

If you liked this, check out:
Where Are They Now: The Temptations
Where Are They Now: Tower of Power

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