Former Gap Band member Charlie Wilson has certainly come a long way since his humble beginnings. For many years Wilson endured the perils of unscrupulous music management — in addition to being blackballed in the music industry — but he pulled out of that tailspin, and today he is able to hold his head high (drug free) and deliver a stellar two-hour performance every time he hits the stage.
We long to see Uncle Charlie every year at the Essence Festival giving the entire Mercedes-Benz Dome attenders life through his up-tempo concert. So why do we call him the “comeback king?”
Many, especially the younger generation, have no idea that Wilson went from the very top of the music game at one point to sinking down the lowest gutters on the mean streets of homelessness then turning to a life of drugs. Not even Wilson knew that the very social worker he consulted with about finding a place to live would one day be his wife (singer Mahin Wilson). She would be the one, he would fall in love with (sound familiar?) After meeting Mahin, and receiving unconditional love and patience from this woman who stood by his side, Uncle Charlie climbed his way back to the top of the charts with the help of songwriter R Kelly. In 2005, Kelly penned, “Charlie, Last Name Wilson” and that was the “come back hit” that put Charlie back in the game. ” For years Wilson has served an an inspiration to several popular artists today. Snoop put it in words best in an interview with Associated Press writer:
Snoop Dogg said he looks to Wilson for inspiration. The rapper started working with Wilson in 1996, featuring him as a guest on five of his albums, including the 2003 smash hit “Beautiful,” featuring Pharrell.
“He’s been more of a family adviser, more of a father figure, more an uncle than a musician,” the rapper said of Wilson through an email. “Musically, we get down and have the most fun in the world when we are in the studio. But I really appreciate him for the things that he does away from the music such as being a man and letting me know what it is to be a man.”
Homelessness wasn’t the only problem Wilson had to overcome. In 2008, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. But his doctor told him they caught the cancer early and he was treated with radiation implants.
It’s truly a miracle to see Uncle Charlie back in the game, and he credits his current stamina to following a proper diet, exercise, and running miles per day with his wife. He absolutely knocked the crowd off their feet after the viewing party for the NAACP Image awards in Bentonville, Arkansas. Walmart, TV One and African Pride truly appreciated the performance and participation.