The Natural. This simple phrase eloquently captures the essence of Charlie Wilson.
That essence is currently commanding center stage with the sparkling ballad “My Love Is All I Have.” No one slam-dunks a ballad like Wilson, the Grammy-nominated multi-talent behind the 15-week Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary chart-topper “You Are.” And that truth remains undisputed with “My Love Is All I Have.” A top five Urban AC hit after only five weeks, the fast-rising track is the lead single from Wilson’s fourth solo album Love, Charlie through P Music/RCA Records. The set — fittingly slated for release Jan. 29, Wilson’s birthday — is currently available for preorder at all digital retailers.
With “My Love Is All I Have,” Wilson once again brings to the forefront the elegant simplicity and amazing vocals that still have a strong foothold in today’s pop, dance and hip-hop oriented world. “I poured my heart into Love, Charlie,” says Wilson, who began working on the album last January. “With this album, I didn’t want to be on the road and recording simultaneously. I wanted to take my time. The game plan was basic: each song needed to have single potential—or it didn’t make the record.”
Thus, “My Love Is All I Have” isn’t the only gem on Love, Charlie. The 12-song album opens with the inspirational, tone-setting centerpiece, “If I Believe.” Both testimony and autobiography, the piano-driven track starts slowly and builds to a crescendo, ending on a beautifully sustained note carried solely by Wilson. “I can always count on you / You never let me down / My trust in you will never leave because you know my destiny / So I know if I believe / I can do anything,” sings Wilson.
“I can’t go anywhere without my God,” explains Wilson of the song’s meaning. “This is about my faith in him.”
The singer/songwriter next shifts from inspirational into an easygoing groove on “I Still Have You,” reminiscent of his 2009 hit single “There Goes My Baby.” Wilson further displays his versatility on “I Think I’m in Love,” accented by colorful doo-wop harmonies. Other noteworthy tracks include the standard-to-be ballad “Our Anniversary,” infectious love ode “A Million Ways to Love You,” funk-thumping party jam “My Baby” and the swing dance track “Ooh Wee.” Wilson also teams up with another R&B titan on the seductive “Whisper,” featuring Keith Sweat. Overall, Wilson has never sounded stronger both vocally and creatively.
“Love, Charlie represents some of Charlie’s finest work to date,” says manager Michael Paran, President/CEO of P Music Group. “It continues to not only show his growth but the strength of the writing/production team we’ve amassed at P Music Group.”
That team includes Wilson’s longtime collaborators Wirlie “Optimas Pryme” Morris and Greg Pagani as well as Edwin “Lil Eddie” Serrano and Emile Ghantous. Also contributing co-writes on several tracks is Wilson’s wife Mahin.
Morris, whose connection with Wilson goes back to the latter’s The Gap Band era, co-produced more than half of Love, Charlie as well as Wilson’s megahit “You Are.” Explaining their creative bond, Wilson says, “Wirlie has done R&B, hip-hop, pop, soul, gospel and jazz … he gets me.” He also credits wife Mahin as being his “emotional barometer” when it comes to marrying heartfelt messages and melodies.
Just Charlie. Uncle Charlie. Charlie, Last Name Wilson. Throughout his tenure with Jive (folded within RCA Records in 2012), Wilson has stayed true to who he is musically and creatively—while raising the bar each time. In the early 1990s, Wilson became a friend and regular collaborator with Snoop Dogg. Their relationship provided Wilson with access to many artists who idolized him as well as fresh, emerging talent who have inspired him to continue pushing the limits of his own material. Wilson has since collaborated with a diverse array of artists including Kanye West, R. Kelly, Will.i.am, Jamie Foxx, T-Pain, Fantasia, Justin Timberlake and, most recently, 2Chainz on the 2012 Soul Train Awards.
“Working with these artists allows me to not be locked in a time capsule,” says Wilson, “It opens the door for me to be a part of the contemporary music scene.”
Initially signed to MCA and then Interscope as a solo artist, Wilson has come a long way from the highs of his The Gap Band heyday to the lows of his alcohol and drug addictions. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native formed the pivotal R&B funk trio with brothers Ronnie and Robert. Raised by a minister father and mother who served as the state’s minister of music, the siblings hit the charts running in the late ‘70s and ‘80s with a string of hits. These included “Outstanding,” “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” “Yearning For Your Love,” “Early in the Morning,” “I Don’t Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops Up Side Your Head),” “Party Train,” “Wednesday Lover” and “All of My Love.” The group retired in 2010.
Working past his addictions, Wilson—sober now for 18 years—signed with Jive in 2004 after landing his first No. 1 Billboard Urban AC hit in 2000, “Without You.” His gold-certified Jive debut, 2005’s Charlie Last Name Wilson, yielded a top 15 R&B single via the title track. Uncle Charlie arrived in 2009, garnering the artist two Grammy nominations: Best R&B Album and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for the hit single “There Goes My Baby.” A year later, Wilson stepped back up to the plate with Just Charlie and his biggest hit to date, “You Are.” After 13 consecutive weeks at No. 1, the song scored two Grammy nods for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance. Also in 2009, he was named Billboard’s No. 1 Adult Artist and his single, “You Are” the No. 1 Adult R&B Song that same year. In addition to his six Grammy nominations Wilson is a recipient of the 2005 BMI Icon Award, the 2009 Soul Train Icon Award and will be honored with Living Legend Award by the Trumpet Awards in January, 2013.
“I started late in the game as a solo act,” reflects Wilson. “I came out of the toilet to have a solo career that no one thought would ever happen. Now I’m on the other side of the finish line … and still have something to sing about. I’m blessed to be standing strong from back in the day.”
Still burning rubber on stage as well, the energetic Wilson averages 75-100 shows a year between concert tours, festivals and private events. He also finds time to give back. Wilson remains committed to promoting awareness and educating the male community about prostate cancer. A survivor of a disease that afflicts one in six American men—and one in three African-American men—Wilson became a spokesperson for the Prostate Cancer Foundation in 2008. In April 2012 he announced his partnership with Janssen Biotech to launch the company’s Making Awareness A Priority (M.A.P.) campaign. The program brings together leading voices in advocacy and health education through live events in select cities across the country (www.myprostatecancerroadmap.com).
Now preparing for the release of Love, Charlie, Wilson says the concept behind the album can be summed up in one sentence: “The whole world needs inspiration.” Better yet, the whole world needs Charlie Wilson.