Culture

Charlie Wilson: Hit maker, mentor and author

Thu., Feb. 21, 2013 6:45 AM EST
by Souleo

Charlie Wilson

Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the ‘A’ w/Souleo

Legendary singer Charlie Wilson is at the top of his game in his professional and personal life. Just this year he has already received a No. 1 R&B album with the release of Love, Charlie, a Living Legend Award by the Trumpet Awards and is performing in various cities, including New York at Madison Square Garden with Tyrese on Saturday, Feb. 23.

When he isn’t making listeners swoon and groove in concert, Wilson is mentoring celebrities, including frequent collaborator Snoop Lion, aka Snoop Dogg. Wilson considers it his way of helping others avoid the pitfalls he has made with substance abuse, finances and stardom. “Snoop Dogg was the first one that allowed me into his personal life. He would ask me what should he do and I was there for him,” he says. “I told him to stop smoking weed and he stopped for almost two years. So there is a lot of peer pressure these young people have and they ask me what to do in those times.”

Wilson plans to share his wisdom with others through a memoir that he is currently finalizing. “It has my whole life in there and it’s juicy. People know I had drugs and alcohol problems but they don’t know how it all began and how I ended up homeless. So that story will be in there,” he says.

R&B singers Alyson Williams, Meli’sa Morgan and Cheryl Pepsii Riley also have a story worth telling and they recently teamed up to perform at Harlem’s Bleu Violin as part of Divapalooza. The live concert series, conceived and produced by Williams, features some of the best R&B divas of the 1980s and 1990s. Highlights from this installment included Williams’ jazz-inspired take on the “Meet The Flintstones” theme song, Morgan’s rousing party-starter “Fool’s Paradise,” and Riley’s heartfelt cover of Joan Osborne’s “What if God Was One of Us.” After her set, Riley noted that she is doing her part to nurture today’s talent through her weekly series, Black Velvet Mondays at the Village Underground. “This is something I wanted to start to pay it forward,” she says. “When we came up there used to be a band rehearsing on every block in Brooklyn, but now the babies don’t really have that outlet. This is a place where musicians and singers can figure out who they are.”

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