Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Charlie Wilson: Charlie Said...

Charlie Wilson
Charlie Wilson Charlie Wilson Charlie Wilson Charlie Wilson

A new generation of fans were introduced to “Uncle Charlie” Wilson when Snoop Dogg *gasp!* I meant Snoop Lion tapped him to sing on his hit singles “Beautiful” and “Signs”. This was swiftly followed by three solo albums “Just Charlie”, “Uncle Charlie”, and “Charlie, Last Name Wilson” all spawning a number of hit singles, showing that he still had his finger on the pulse of modern R&B music.

However to millions of others, his voice had been causing us to rush to the dance floor whenever songs like “You Dropped the Bomb on Me” or “Outstanding” came on. Seriously how many parties and clubs have you been to and seen grown men and women drop to the floor and start rowing as soon as “Oops Upside Your Head” comes on? January 2013 saw the release of Charlie Wilson’s fourth solo album “Love Charlie” which debuted at #1 on the USA Adult Contemporary chart. Uncle Charlie has toured around the world, been a multiple Grammy Award nominee, had a career that has spanned decades, and survived both substance addiction and prostate cancer- truly outstanding! Whilst promoting his new album, Uncle Charlie was kind enough to talk to B&S’ sweet boy Ricardito about some of his career highlights, his secret envy of Tina Turner, and what he really thinks about the “Uncle Charlie” tag.

On album success:
Debuting at #1 is a big ordeal for me; I had no clue that it was going to debut at #1. When it [a song] climbs to #1 it that feels good, but when you debut at #1 that is even better! As a matter of fact I was looking for a #1 slot, and was hoping that we could debut at #1…and how nice it was would be if we debuted at #1. When it came out that it WAS #1 it was wonderful; I was jumping for joy and everybody was congratulating me. I put a lot of heart and soul into this record, I worked really hard.

Career highlights:
Wow... well I just got an award called the Trumpet Award, a very prestigious award, for Lifetime Achievement. It’s hard to get that award; you have to be prestigious to get that award. I mean you have to have longevity, be able to reinvent yourself, and to give back sort of like what I have been doing, for them to honour you. I mean just a couple of years ago I was in the building and they gave the award to the Attorney General. I was looking around at all the service guys, and I was like “wow this room is so full of people, that got so much class, it would be an honour one day to be in this room not only just performing but to sit in one of those seats in the front row”. Two years later there I was, it made me feel so good I was so, so emotional I could hardly get my speech out. I knew I was going to get the award, but when it was time for me to go accept the award it hit me like a ton of bricks I could hardly say names (laughs) I ended up [sounding] like a little boy that had just got a whipping (laughs). I was given a Legend Award at the Soul Train Awards in 2009, and that was an incredible award as well. I am just overjoyed that these awards are coming left and right for me….its incredible, I am very, very happy that people are honouring me now while I can still smell the roses.

Gap Band hits that surprised him
“You Dropped the Bomb on Me” totally surprised me, I didn’t really like the song at all, not the way it turned out. I knew “Burn Rubber on Me” was going to be an instant hit, and I knew “Outstanding” would be an instant hit and I love “Oops Upside Your Heard” (laughs). But “You Dropped the Bomb on Me” I just didn’t like that record, and I didn’t know it was going to be as big as it was. It turned out to be bigger than most of the records I had cut at the time, and I didn’t believe it. I think we had started that record and gone in a different direction and the producer at the time he started to changing things up. We would record and go home, but then we’d come back and the record would sound totally different and I was like “Why did you do that?”, but that record ended up being bigger than our other records; I guess I was wrong about that.

Thoughts on vocal style biters like Aaron Hall:
At the time I was shocked that the kids were sounding so much like me, I didn’t know whether to be angry or to be happy. At that time these guys came like a tornado (laughs) and swept America with that sound; with our style with a little swing… a Jack swing to it. Like I said I didn’t know whether to be upset or to be glad because at that time we didn’t have a hit. Now I am so honoured that people have adopted my singing style, you know I always prayed to God let me inspiration to people, and he has granted my wish. I like to inspire to people because I have been inspired by a lot of people as well. When I was younger I didn’t know that I was inspiring singers, I just didn’t know. I am definitely so honoured that people will call my name and say that they love Charlie Wilson’s style of music and would love to sing like him. Those are incredible words, it makes me feel really, really good and happy. You know Aaron Hall, Brian McKnight and R. Kelly the list just goes on.

Getting screen time and airplay:
For me in the adult contemporary world for radio it’s not hard for me for the last few years, and I thank God for that; for other people it’s hard, and I don’t know why. We have been shooting for the #1 slot all the time and we have been getting there thankfully all the time, but for other people its really hard. I know that I have prayed and asked God for so many years, and I have been getting what I have been asking for. Now for TV time we do get some...Its sorta like you wouldn’t want your eight year old girl with a poster over her bed of a guy that’s 40 years old man, its not right or appropriate, and I am even older than that. So it’s hard to get someone my age on TV for a lot of stuff, because they will ask why would they put this guy on? It’s almost like a model that is a top model when she is 18, but now that she is 35 she is not going to be on the cover of all the magazines, and I look at it the same way, its kinda hard. I am still a little upset that they don’t acknowledge that, [with] me having so many #1 records but you still can’t get certain things. It has been done before for Tina Turner, but I guess she had those legs (laughs), and she has been using those legs for her advantage and she is a powerful singer. I always use her as an example why we can’t get certain things? But I have been doing pretty well with it and I am alright with it.

Words Richard 'Ricardito' Ashie

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