Charlie Wilson: The Man, The Music
I love what I do and hope to keep doing it for long time to come. I make music now to encourage love, strength of a woman's love and support.
Black Star News Entertainment Reporter Cheryl Williams caught up with the Legendary Charlie Wilson to discuss his incredible R/B career and so much more.
BSN: Mr. Charlie Wilson aka Uncle Charlie how are you and may I add what a pleasure to chat with you today. Taking this time out with me is so greatly appreciated as I'm aware of your busy schedule today.
Charlie Wilson: It is my pleasure. I love my fans and will take the time to share with them any time I can.
BSN: I'm a true and life long fan and simply want to know who Charlie Wilson is from your career vantage point?
Charlie Wilson: Charlie Wilson is a staple in the R/B community. There aren't a lot of cats doing what I do for as long I've done it. I fell very blessed to be in this business. Never giving up on life, overcoming obstacles as I stood the test of time. It takes courage and heart to stay in this business and I'm here to stay until they put me in the ground. I love what I do and hope to keep doing it for long time to come. I make music now to encourage love, strength of a woman's love and support. Overall respect for a woman. I've had some hard times with substance abuse and greatly credit my wife with her love and support to become the Charlie Wilson I am today. Where would I be without her love and my faith in God? Because of these loves in my life, I'm here today doing what I do best and feeling blessed to do it.
BSN: Your fans certainly hope you do stay around for a very long time as well. Please tell us more. You have several hits currently. As I'm driving I've heard three of your songs playing in a hour's span. That is wonderful. You are a hit and hit maker.
Charlie Wilson: You know it's bitter sweet this time around. I'm not bragging but I thank God for my fans, radio, folks like you who write and tell people about me [and] my career because I'm blessed and highly favored to have been through so much and have maintained this career is a blessing from God. I didn't have the career Lionel Ritchie had with the Commodores who left the group and became a huge hit or Chaka (Khan) who left Rufus Young at 22. I rode the wheels [of the GAP band] off the track to rise up from the ashes by the glory of God. A lot of people don't know that I do Vegas 10 weeks a year. I do the old stuff as well as the new stuff. They say favor ain't favor and I'm shooting to stay on the side of favor. I executive produced this new album: "B Words" that I'm very proud of. From the album project: Just Charlie," U Are" stayed at number one for 15 weeks. From Outstanding with my brothers, [the GAP Band] to this! This is just amazing. Favor! Favor!
BSN: I know that right. Favor isn't favor but it's certainly quite favorable...lol!
Charlie Wilson: LOL!
BSN: What an incredible testimony to share with us today about standing the test of time. How did you and your brothers who formed the GAP band get started?
Charlie Wilson: Well I come from a musical family. My mom played the piano and was the Minister of Music of the La. State Choir and my energetic father was a preacher. So my home was filled with music. My brothers and sister and I all sang and played instruments. I remember my mom picking up a trumpet I brought home and had expressed interest in playing it. She said: So you want to play the trumpet and actually picked it up played it, winked at me and walked away. I was blown away. She was amazing. LOL!
Now my older brother, Ronnie had a band while I was in Junior High and I copied his band and created my own band. My band became very popular and everyone started coming to hear us and were talking about my band. Ronnie saw this and asked me to join his band and my younger brother, Robert who played bass to join as well. We formed as a band and became the Greenwood Acher Pine Street band name after the first black Wall Street area in the 20's. After a typographical error in a sign one day the initials just jump out and we shortened it to the GAP band. Back then guys like George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton would come hear us play. We played in a little club on the south side and Eric Clapton would often come. We met him and he would bring his friends. He would say 'I got this band for you to hear called the GAP band,' and we grew a following as we played around town.
BSN: What a legacy? Now I understand where the love and joy comes from when I listen to Uncle Charlie and the GAP band. All from a place of faith and love. It is heard and felt when listening to you and your music.
Charlie Wilson: You know, I'm told I work too hard. I give 110 percent. That is what I was taught to do and I will continue to give my audience my best. They have to be satisfied with my show. I've performed when my audience had no idea I was sick. Sick with strep throat and dizzy while leaving the stage. Got off the stage and woke up in the hospital with tubes and everything. I've never cancelled a show because I was sick. I've never let the people [audience] know what was happening.
BSN: Now you are a real example of professionalism at all times. So many new and young artist can benefit from your level of performance excellence. Interestingly enough, I heard of a recent account of an artist making a comeback who was alarmingly late and then chastised her audience who stayed because most left due to her tardiness--unbelievable would you say?
Charlie Wilson: You can't get upset with people when they get tired of you. You can't fool your audience. They know when you aren't delivering 100 percent. I know of some rappers who have private jets, get so much money and are so nonchalant about everything. They don't understand that it can all end tomorrow. If no one shows up, you have no career. I remember one rapper telling me 'my people don't like the sound in the stadium' and he won't perform a full show because of this. Now just imagine, a stadium of 40,000 people and they will only do 30 minutes because of the sound? I was so blown away. Now they are saying if they had another chance they would do it just for the fans. They are saying they would walk away,[because they] made the millions and just do it for the fan only. Sometimes, you can't do it over again. If you are so blessed to have a career,give God the praise and glory and don't take this business and your audience for granted. It truly can all be gone tomorrow. The career, money, fans and lifestyle can disappear. Everything gone.
BSN: As a person of faith, I can relate and as part of your audience, I can absolutely appreciate your candor and level of excellence as a performer and musicianship. Charlie Wilson fans knows we are going to rock out with you and leave satisfied. Before we leave can you please share any thoughts on your journey as a prostate cancer survivor with your audience?
Charlie Wilson: First I'd like to say with prostate cancer prayer changes things. Most men don't like to go to the doctor and because they don't know, they are dying. Knowledge is power. African American men are two times more likely to die of prostate cancer [which in most cases is preventable, treatable and curable] simply, we don't go to the doctor. Girlfriends and wives get your man to the doctor. Take him to the doctor if he won't go alone. I know all the signs. Some are frequent urination, swollen prostate, burning when urinating. All of this is treatable. I want to say to my brothers 'Man up go to the doctor and get your exam.' It's called an exit point exam that can be a little uncomfortable but necessary to save your life. Many of us have shame to do this exam. I'd hate for anyone to die of shame.
BSN: Powerful words of encouragement to our men, all men to get their prostate checked. I pray they take heed. I do thank you for your time with me and your loyal audience who love and adore you. Your professionalism is a testimony to emulate for all who call themselves performers and entertainers alike. Your faith walk to include healing is incredible and inspiring. We look forward to your upcoming New York Beacon theatre performance with Mint Condition on Friday June 24h and this wonderful new project with so many new hits just waiting to kiss our hearts with musical love only the way Uncle Charlie can. May God bless you, keep you and make HIS face to shine upon you and yours.
Charlie Wilson: Awe, thank you so much! The pleasure was all mine.
"Speaking Truth To Empower."
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