Sunday, May 19, 2024

Charlie Wilson on Taking Back His ‘Sound’ and Why He’s Over R. Kelly

Charlie Wilson performs at Jazz in the Garden. Photo courtesy of Circle One Marketing.

*Charlie Wilson’s manager, Michael Paran, said he and the former lead vocalist of The Gap Band are careful when choosing which appearances to do.

As reported by the L.A. Times, the 65-year-old soul singer is enjoying success as a solo artist, with resonating “retro-minded singles” that perform well on R&B radio and a healthy touring schedule.

Wilson’s latest album, “In It to Win It,” came out last year and he also keeps busy as a go-to guest vocalist for hip-hop stars such as Kanye, Pharrell and Snoop Dogg, among many others.

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charlie wilson

Uncle Charlie and his manager are also protective of his image. “My thing is celebrating the woman,” Wilson said. “I feel like we’ve forgotten how to respect women.”

Which is why it came as a surprise earlier this year when he agreed to open a concert for R. Kelly in North Carolina. As you know, the raunchy R&B star has been accused by numerous women of sexual abuse.

Asked about the show, Wilson explained that Kelly, like Snoop, had given him a vital boost during a crucial point in his career — by producing Wilson’s 2005 release “Charlie, Last Name Wilson.”

“So I said, ‘Take this, and then that’s it,’” Wilson recounted telling Kelly. “‘Thank you for what you did for me. I’m gonna give you this one, but one is it.’ Then we stepped out the way. No more.”

R. Kelly has denied the allegations against him.

But according to the #MeToo Movement, there’s an R. Kelly-type lurking within the halls of every movie studio and record label. Which is why Wilson said he offers guidance to younger artists he’s encountered over the years — especially those struggling with the type of addiction or financial issues that he knows firsthand.

“I’ve talked till I’m blue in the face with some of these people, man,” he said. “Some people don’t want to listen, and if you don’t want to listen, the bed of nails is there for you to lay on.

“But I’m the industry’s uncle. Somebody’s getting out of hand, I’m there to speak: ‘Just settle on down.’ It’s coming from my heart. Everything that you’re going through, I’ve already been there.”

So what’s left to do?

Wilson said he’s working on a “special project with special people” but declined to reveal his collaborators. He’s also eager to make an album of his own that revisits the Gap Band’s electro-funk style, which has come back into style thanks to acts like Bruno Mars.

“If you hear your sound in these new records,” he said, “you should go get it.”

If you’re in SoCal this weekend, Uncle Charlie will be performing this Friday and Saturday at the Hollywood Bowl at 8pm.

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