Charlie Wilson is considered to be an "Uncle" for many artists, old and young, because of his contributions to R&B music since his Gap Band days. This man is truly a powerhouse who continues to soar to much greater heights as a solo artist. Since 2005, Charlie has released 8 No. 1 singles, received 7 Grammy nominations, and collected BET's Lifetime Achievement Award in June 2013. This is truly a blessing for the R&B vocalist, but there's more to come. He is truly a prime example of "never giving up," and overcoming obstacles in your life. Charlie stresses to fans that he is not a preacher but his life story is the perfect message of restoration and truly giving your all to God. Singersroom spoke with the R&B legend about touring, performing with Dougie Fresh and SWV, his relationship in God, and his upcoming projects.
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Performing on the Soul Train Cruise: Ahh, it was incredible and the band was wonderful during my time on the cruise ship. I had such as wonderful time and I enjoyed all of the performers who were on the cruise ship. The crowd was great and I've never seen a show that truly entertains the audience. So I feel truly blessed that I was included and a part of something bigger than myself.
Touring: It is wonderful because you get to see how the crowd responds to you on stage. It's like you don't know what to expect because people are expecting an excellent show from you, as the artist. And when the crowd is receptive, then you know you are doing your job. And fans know when they attend a Charlie Wilson concert, expect a show full of energy and excitement, laughs, and maybe a few tears as well. I love it because I'm doing what I love to do and still have fun with the crowd. People love that and that's what it's all about. I love making records and performing them on the road for my fans.
Performing with SWV and Dougie Fresh at the Garden: It is always a pleasure to perform with Dougie because he kills it every time on stage. I remember when Dougie Fresh and Slick Rick were on the road with Gap Band and I remember how he was on stage with Rick. And Dougie used to watch and study how the Gap Band performed every night. It wasn't about copying off me, but fully understanding how you can entertain an audience and this is why Dougie is an entertainer. It's good when he walks on stage and performs because he always does it at the right place, at the right time. Dougie E. Fresh is a great act and I wouldn't mind sharing the stage with him. SWV was great as well because these ladies can really sing and they still have hits that people love hearing each time they see them. I know most people love listening to "Weak," because it is a classic from them. It was truly a concert that I enjoyed because Dougie and SWV joined me and they're talented people.
Relationship with God and Wife, Mahin: God has blessed me so much in my life. It's not about the financial rewards because I discovered something bigger than myself when I was at my worst. So, how can I not give back to him by not telling the world what he has done for me? If he can do it for me, he can do it for anyone else in this world. It is just my way to praise and say thank you to God for all he has done. When I'm on stage, this is the perfect opportunity to express the love and gratitude I have for him to my fans. Because without him, I wouldn't be where I am now. I've chosen this path because I'm worthy of living life abundantly. Because he told me so. God has blessed me with the love of my life, Mahin, she is truly a gift from him. We've been married for 19 years and she is with me every single day, every hour. She is a great woman because she is loving, attentive, and supports my dreams and goals. It is always a beautiful thing when you find someone who truly loves you and didn't judge you because of your past mistakes.
Favorite Collaborations: Ummm, that is a tough one because they're so many. Kanye, Justin, Snoop, Pharrell, R. Kelly, there's just a lot of them. It's hard to pin-point which one is your favorite because every artist is different. I'm just going to leave that one alone (lol) but every collaboration has been great and I'm looking forward to many more.
Favorite Songs to Perform on Stage: I love performing "Outstanding," because the crowd goes crazy when they hear that song. It is a party anthem for them and they really go hard each time that song is played. But I love performing all of my solo pieces, “Charlie, Last Name Wilson”, “You Are”, “I Still Have You”, “There Goes My Baby”, you name it! There are so many songs and I can't narrow it down to just one. And fans make their special requests to sing a Charlie Wilson or Gap Band song. I may have to perform eight of my solo pieces and 5 or 6 Gap Band songs. I would love to sing all of them, but I know when you're on tour, you're under a time limit because you can't be on stage for 3 or 4 hours.
Upcoming Projects: Music, of course, new album, and just continue to tour with my team; Team Charlie. We really work hard because we love music and the love people have for us; it's truly a blessing. We started out arranging tour dates and festivals a year in advance. I know we will perform at a lot of festivals because people love to see you perform live. It can get a little frustrating because it's a lot of work and it can be a huge toll on your body. But I try to stay healthy and strong because at the end of the day, I love performing. I do 120 sit-ups, 120 squats, 4 days a week so I can stay fit. I'll take a day off and go at it again because this is the way for me to stay in shape.
Advice to the New School: Stay true to YOU! Don't get caught up with the entourage, trying to "fit in" and the glitz and glamour of fame because it leads to other avenues that you are not ready for at all. It leads to drinking and getting high off every drug, weed, cocaine, crack, whatever. Because more than likely, those people are not going to be on your side when your water runs dry. Just remember what you’ve set out to do as an artist and stay away from it. Keep moving because it's not worth it. Take it from someone who has been down that road. You can get out of it but it's not going to be easy. It's not cool because it can truly get out of hand. You're going to end up with nothing, maybe living on the streets like I did. Just save yourself the unnecessary headaches and drama. You're hurting yourself when you abuse your body. That's why it's important to stay prayed and NEVER lose sight of God because this industry will try to crumble you in a minute. Handle your own business, personal and financial because you have to be wise with all of your decisions. Know who you can trust, write your own songs, hire an attorney and go over any paperwork or contracts with them. Don't get me wrong, performing and singing is rewarding but you need to understand the other components of the business outside of them. People are greedy and cruel so you really need to be on your toes.