Before launching his solo career in 2000, Wilson racked up a string of hits in the late ‘70s and ‘80s as front man with the Gap Band. The pioneering R&B/funk group charted such frequently sampled classics as “Outstanding,” “Yearning for Your Love,” “Burn Rubber on Me,” “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” and “Early in the Morning.”
Wilson continues his reign as “Uncle Charlie,” the lovable nickname originally given to him by Snoop Dogg, by being one of the most highly sought-after adult entertainers for today’s top Hip-Hop and Pop artists.
Wilson signed to Jive (now RCA) in 2004 after landing his first No. 1 Billboard Adult R&B hit in 2000, “Without You.” Since then, he’s released six solo albums and become a consistent chart presence. His tally of 19 hits boasts seven more Adult R&B No. 1s. Among them: “My Love Is All I Have,” “You Are” and “There Goes My Baby.” While garnering 13 Grammy nominations and other industry accolades, including BET’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award, Wilson has stayed busy on the road, as he is a major concert draw, claiming the crown for top winter tour of 2015 with his Forever Charlie arena tour.
In 2018, he stepped in as a replacement for Cardi B opening for Bruno Mars on his 24K Magic World Tour Finale, performing for thousands of fans in Minneapolis, Detroit, Dallas, Los Angeles and Mars’ hometown, Honolulu, which made history selling out three nights at Aloha Stadium.
“I’ve been in this game for many years,” reflects the Gap Band founder and solo icon. “I’ve had some big hit records and sold a lot of records. But I need to still show people that I’m in it. It’s championship time.”
Wilson underscores that declaration with 2017’s In It to Win It (P Music Group/RCA), which earned a 2019 Grammy nomination for Best Traditional R&B Performance for the track “Made For Love,” his enchanting duet with Lalah Hathaway. In 2018, Charlie was also nominated for three 2018 NAACP Image Awards, Outstanding Male Artist, Outstanding Duo, Group or Collaboration and Outstanding Album. Coinciding with the release of In It To Win It, Wilson’s national U.S. tour sold out arenas around the country. This run included a special performance in London at the British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park with Bruno Mars in July 2018.
The set boasts two number one singles which hit two different Billboard charts in April 2018. “Chills” was #1 on the Adult R&B Songs chart and “I’m Blessed” ft. T.I. was #1 on the Hot Gospel Songs (and stayed in the top 5 for 65 weeks). This marked the first time an artist had two different #1 songs on these charts at the same time. “I’m Blessed” was also nominated for a 2018 Billboard Top Gospel song and was name one of the Top Songs of the Decade by the Associated Press.
He also joined Kanye West and Kid Cudi to sing the chorus on the track “No Mistakes” from West’s album Ye, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. Wilson also united with long-time collaborator and friend Snoop Dogg on the track “One More Day” from Snoop’s Bible of Love gospel album, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart.
In the years between the Gap Band’s heyday and his solo success, Wilson survived drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness and prostate cancer. He chronicled his odds-defying life and career in his 2015 best-selling autobiography, I Am Charlie Wilson. Sober now for 24 years, the singer says, “I wouldn’t have believed I’d be where I am right now. That’s why I shout every night because I thank God for allowing me to be here.”
As a tribute to his 23 years of sobriety, helping homeless addicts and educating the African American community about prostate cancer, Wilson was honored at the 2018 NAACP Image Awards with the first ever Music Makes A Difference Award. In May 2018, The National Museum of African American Music, scheduled to open in Nashville in 2019, honored Wilson with their Rhapsody & Rhythm Award at their Legends Celebration.