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Charlie Wilson

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AboutTimeless. It's something every artist wants to be, but few earn the distinction. Charlie Wilson's name is on that short list.

From his breakout as a member of the Gap Band ("You Dropped A Bomb On Me," "Outstanding") in the '80s to his revered solo recordings (2005's certified gold Charlie, Last Name Wilson, 2009's Grammy nominated Uncle Charlie), Wilson has sold millions of albums, inspired a throng of artists who modeled their vocal stylings after his (most notably Aaron Hall and R. Kelly) and cemented his status as a musical icon with accolades from Billboard and BET, among a host of others.

Now, with his third Jive Records solo album Just Charlie, Wilson is on a mission: to teach people how to respect, treat and speak to women. It's about respect and total commitment, something Wilson puts on full display with the lead single "You Are," produced by Wilson and P Music Group producer/songwriter Wirlie Morris.

"The first time I heard the song I knew it was going to be timeless and probably one of the best Charlie had recorded in his career so I immediately thought to add an extra layer of distinction and bring in a live orchestra," stated Michael Paran, of P Music Group, who has managed and guided Wilson's successful solo career for the last 13 years. "So we reached out to Larry Batiste, Musical Director for the Pre-Grammy telecasts who did the orchestral arrangements which took the song over the top."

Already a radio hit on the Urban Adult Contemporary chart, "You Are" features a warm, elegant soundbed that serves as the backdrop for Wilson to showcase the love and admiration he has for his wife, Mahin. After Wilson's years of battling drug abuse and homelessness, Mahin was the one who helped guide him back to personal and professional greatness. "I didn't have a reason to love," Wilson says. "I didn't have anybody to trust, to be there for me. To find someone like Mahin is the reason that I can love. She taught me how to live."

That radiance carries over to "Once And Forever," an elegant, piano-accented ballad where Wilson describes how his lady inspired him to be a better man. Both "You Are" and "Once And Forever" are likely to be featured at weddings for decades to come, thanks to their lush orchestration and uplifting lyrics.

Elsewhere, Wilson details how his woman is a "Dime" in every way (not just physically) and celebrates his life with his lady (and shows off his impeccable vocals with daring runs and adlibs) on the feel-good "Lotto." Then, on the breezy, reggae-influenced "Life Of The Party," Wilson makes a point to treat his lady to a memorable night on the town, where the sole focus is to enjoy themselves. "As adults, when we start getting older, we start losing our youth because of Father Time," he explains. "I think we should have a good time in life until the clock stops ticking. I think you should continue to have fun, never stop enjoying yourself, and never stop giving up on your dreams."

And for millions of people, their dream is to be in love. That's why Wilson chose to remake his good friend Roger Troutman's "I Wanna Be Your Man." This stellar cover features Fantasia and depicts the type of yearning people have before their love is reciprocated. For others, it's a love past that makes them realize that maybe they "Never Got Enough" of that person. This cut contains classic funk elements and lively keyboards, sounds that work well with the intensity in which some reflect upon a love lost.

But it's triumph that truly defines Just Charlie. After navigating through exhilarating highs and unspeakable lows, Wilson found redemption, a journey he documents on the driving, empowering "Where Would I Be." "I went from rags to riches, riches to rags, rags to the curb and from the curb to being homeless," he reveals. "Now I'm back to being a No. 1 artist and I couldn't have done it without my woman. To have a woman who stands by your side no matter what you're going through, the ups and the downs and the in-betweens, where would I be without her?"

And where would music be without Charlie Wilson? With The Gap Band, Wilson and brothers Ronnie and Robert helped define and popularize an upbeat form of funk that was equally infectious and lasting. "Outstanding," "You Dropped a Bomb On Me," and "I Don't Believe You Want To Get Up And Dance (Oops Up Side Your Head)" were among their immense catalog of hits and are among the most sampled songs in music history.

Although Wilson struggled with alcohol and drug addiction that consumed him once The Gap Band broke up, his music resonated with generations of musicians and rappers, many of whom clamored to recreate his soaring vocals, to collaborate with him or to just achieve the level of artistic quality Wilson maintained.

In the early 1990s, Wilson (who had already been identified as the blueprint on which Guy's Aaron Hall and R. Kelly modeled their style) became friends and a regular collaborator with Snoop Dogg. This relationship provided Wilson with access to many of the artists that idolized him, as well as a fresh group of emerging talent who inspired him to continue pushing the limits of his own material.

"I had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest hip-hop artists in this business," recalls Wilson, who has collaborated with Kanye West, R. Kelly, Jamie Foxx, T-Pain and Justin Timberlake, among others. "It allowed me to open up my horizons and be able to learn about different types of music. Working with these artists allowed me to not be locked in a time capsule. It opened the door for me to be a part of today's contemporary music scene."

Beyond music, Wilson remains committed to promoting awareness and testing for prostate cancer. As a survivor of a disease that afflicts one in six American men -- and one in three African American men -- Wilson in 2008 teamed with the Prostate Cancer Foundation. "When I learned that the PCF had helped to build a global research enterprise of nearly $10 billion and funded more than 1500 programs at nearly 200 research centers in 12 countries, I knew I wanted to support their efforts," stated Wilson.

Today he continues to speak at events around the country, encouraging men to get screened for the disease. He also supports the PCF through the sale of his signature fedora hats at his concerts and on his website at www.unclecharliewilson.com/shop.

With music and his work to combat prostate cancer, Wilson has been able to sustain the passion and drive that have been hallmarks of his legendary career. "I'm still living this dream," Wilson says. "I'm still going to the stage and I'm still having fun. I'm not there just to pick up the check. It's about the passion and the respect that I have for the game. It keeps me going."

No wonder Charlie Wilson is considered timeless. And no wonder Just Charlie will soon earn the same distinction.

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