Charlie Wilson On Success Of "One I Got" & Who He Would Face Off In A Verzuz Battle

Charlie Wilson 


Charlie Wilson On Success Of "One I Got" & Who He Would Face Off In A Verzuz Battle

The GRAMMY-nominated icon talks to about his career longevity, celebrating women through song, who he would Verzuz battle against, and more

GRAMMYs/Sep 25, 2020 - 03:16 am

Charlie Wilson remains the king of the Billboard Adult R&B Songs chart this week with his latest single "One I Got," taking us back with a sample of The Four Tops' 1972 classic "Ain't No Woman (Like The One I've Got)." Chart success is not new to the iconic singer and former member of The Gap Band, so what's he after next? A golden gramophone, he says. Wilson is currently working on a forthcoming album and says he's feeling his best yet.

"I am so honored with 13 nominations but I’m coming for the win! Honestly, I’m in the best space musically that I have been in my whole career. Mainly I’m just having fun. I’ve been recording a lot and I’m working on my next single," he said in an email conversation with last week.  

Wilson continues to connect with new audiences not only with his music but in song features alongside big-league rappers like Nas and Tyler, the Creator.

"Rap music continues to evolve and I have been fortunate to participate and contribute to the genre for so many years," he says. 

But it hasn't always been a smooth ride for the artist, who has battled addiction and homelessness (Wilson's been sober for a few decades now). his resilient spirit is intact, especially now as the world deals with an ongoing pandemic, not to mention renewed racial tensions and a fight against police brutality. (He tweeted a message to Breonna Taylor a day after a grand jury did not charge the police officers who shot and killed her.)

The charismatic singer spoke to about his career longevity and success, the inspiration behind his latest hit, who he would want to face off with in a Verzuz battle, how he stays positive through this tough time and more. 

Congratulations on claiming another No. 1 track on Billboard's Adult R&B Songs airplay chart with "One I Got." What inspired this song?

Thank you! Yes, I’m so happy to have another #1 single back-to-back already from my upcoming album. In my music, I always like to celebrate women. I've also been a longtime fan of the Four Tops and their song, "Ain't No Woman." My inspiration is the "One I Got,” my wife, she has been standing by my side for 25 years.

You’re also a collaborator on Nas’ recently released King’s Disease. How was it working with him on "Car #85"?

It was great to be in the room with Nas and Hit-Boy, who produced the album. Nas explained to me the story behind "Car #85," which is a personal story he wanted to share. I’m so proud of Nas that he’s still doing his thing and happy to contribute to his vision. We had a lot of fun, as making music should be and I look forward to doing more with them.

You’ve collabed with rappers a lot in the past. Why do you think rappers from all generations continue to reach out to collaborate with you?

They call because they know that Uncle Charlie got that special sauce, LOL. But honestly, I think it’s because I bring authenticity and soul to their songs or maybe they just want to impress their mamas (or grand mamas) that they have Charlie Wilson on their song. LOL. Rap music continues to evolve and I have been fortunate to participate and contribute to the genre for so many years starting with my nephew Snoop Dogg all the way to present performing our song “Earfquake” with Tyler, the Creator at the GRAMMY Awards this year.

We’ve watched iconic figures go head to head on VERZUZ battles. A lot of people on social media would love to see you be a part of it. Are you open to doing one?

Yes, of course. I love that it has brought so much attention to Black artists and highlights all the good feelings and power of Black music for our fans to rally around. It’s a win for our culture and music community on many levels. When they’re ready for me they know where to find me!

Who would you personally like to head off with?

Stevie Wonder is a friend and one of my idols so it would be amazing for us to sit together and just go through our hits and goof around together like we always do. Also, Lionel Richie. He came from a group, I came from a group and then we both went solo, though me much later in life. And our collective catalogs span decades. We each have hits for days both old and new. However, I may have a few more newer hits though. LOL. Bring it, Lionel!

You’re an iconic, successful solo artist. What was the biggest challenge going from being a part of a group to going solo?

The biggest challenge going solo is branching out from the group and creating your own success as a solo artist. With an established group, it’s easier for people to want to take the path of least resistance and work with the name or group that everybody knows. When you go solo you have to pave your own way of creating and building your new identity while trying to keep fans and create new ones. For me, I also had the added challenge with the stigma of my drug addiction. It took a while for the industry to embrace me once again after I gained my sobriety. I had to prove myself and earn the trust of people to support me and my new career.

What are you up to now music-wise?

I’m working on winning a GRAMMY! LOL! I am so honored with 13 nominations but I’m coming for the win! Honestly, I’m in the best space musically that I have been in my whole career. Mainly I’m just having fun. I’ve been recording a lot and I’m working on my next single. I have a few surprise collaborations with other artists coming out soon as well. Since going solo 20 years ago, I have been fortunate to have a great management and label team at P Music Group, headed by Michael Paran, who has spearheaded my solo career. Together we are in full control of my destiny and that allows us to create the best music and live experience for my fans. There’s so much going on in the world.

You’re a positive, hopeful figure on social media. How are you staying grounded?

I try to spread as much love and light as I can during these trying times. Whether through my music, social media, or a virtual performance my goal is to stay connected with my fans and bring them some joy. This is the longest I've been off the road and I miss my fans, band, dancers, and crew. It's been challenging but on the bright side, I am getting to enjoy some things I didn't have time to do when I was always on the road performing. My wife and I always start each morning with our daily prayer and the time at home gives me a chance to write and record songs, take long walks, swim, or do cardio in the gym. We've also been catching up on TV, watching great movies and talk shows and keeping up with the news. I’ve been given a second chance in life and music so even though times are uncertain I will always thank God and say, “I’m Blessed.”

Up Close & Personal: Ashton Travis On 'PHOENIX MODE,' The Sounds That Shaped Him


GRAMMY SoundChecks With Gavin DeGraw

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 05:06 am

On Aug. 28 Nashville Chapter GRAMMY U members took part in GRAMMY SoundChecks with Gavin DeGraw. Approximately 30 students gathered at music venue City Hall and watched DeGraw play through some of the singles from earlier in his career along with "Cheated On Me" from his latest self-titled album.

In between songs, DeGraw conducted a question-and-answer session and inquired about the talents and goals of the students in attendance. He gave inside tips to the musicians present on how to make it in the industry and made sure that every question was answered before moving onto the next song.


Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year


Juan Gabriel named 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person Of The Year

Annual star-studded gala slated for Nov. 4 in Las Vegas during 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Week celebration

GRAMMYs/May 15, 2017 - 01:36 pm

 Internationally renowned singer/songwriter/performer Juan Gabriel will be celebrated as the 2009 Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year, it was announced today by The Latin Recording Academy. Juan Gabriel, chosen for his professional accomplishments as well as his commitment to philanthropic efforts, will be recognized at a star-studded concert and black tie dinner on Nov. 4 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nev. 

The "Celebration with Juan Gabriel" gala will be one of the most prestigious events held during Latin GRAMMY week, a celebration that culminates with the 10th Annual Latin GRAMMY Awards ceremony. The milestone telecast will be held at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 and will be broadcast live on the Univision Television Network at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central. 

"As we celebrate this momentous decade of the Latin GRAMMYs, The Latin Recording Academy and its Board of Trustees take great pride in recognizing Juan Gabriel as an extraordinary entertainer who never has forgotten his roots, while at the same time having a global impact," said Latin Recording Academy President Gabriel Abaroa. "His influence on the music and culture of our era has been tremendous, and we welcome this opportunity to pay a fitting tribute to a voice that strongly resonates within our community.

Over the course of his 30-year career, Juan Gabriel has sold more than 100 million albums and has performed to sold-out audiences throughout the world. He has produced more than 100 albums for more than 50 artists including Paul Anka, Lola Beltran, Rocío Dúrcal, and Lucha Villa among many others. Additionally, Juan Gabriel has written more than 1,500 songs, which have been covered by such artists as Marc Anthony, Raúl Di Blasio, Ana Gabriel, Angelica María, Lucia Mendez, Estela Nuñez, and Son Del Son. In 1986, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley declared Oct. 5 "The Day of Juan Gabriel." The '90s saw his induction into Billboard's Latin Music Hall of Fame and he joined La Opinion's Tributo Nacional Lifetime Achievement Award recipients list. 

At the age of 13, Juan Gabriel was already writing his own songs and in 1971 recorded his first hit, "No Tengo Dinero," which landed him a recording contract with RCA. Over the next 14 years, he established himself as Mexico's leading singer/songwriter, composing in diverse styles such as rancheras, ballads, pop, disco, and mariachi, which resulted in an incredible list of hits ("Hasta Que Te Conocí," "Siempre En Mi Mente," "Querida," "Inocente Pobre Amigo," "Abrázame Muy Fuerte," "Amor Eterno," "El Noa Noa," and "Insensible") not only for himself  but for many leading Latin artists. In 1990, Juan Gabriel became the only non-classical singer/songwriter to perform at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City and the album release of that concert, Juan Gabriel En Vivo Desde El Palacio De Bellas Artes, broke sales records and established his iconic status. 

After a hiatus from recording, Juan Gabriel released such albums as Gracias Por Esperar, Juntos Otra Vez, Abrázame Muy Fuerte, Los Gabriel…Para Ti, Juan Gabriel Con La Banda…El Recodo, and El Mexico Que Se Nos Fue, which were all certified gold and/or platinum by the RIAA. In 1996, to commemorate his 25th anniversary in the music industry, BMG released a retrospective set of CDs entitled 25 Aniversario, Solos, Duetos, y Versiones Especiales, comprised appropriately of 25 discs.   

In addition to his numerous accolades and career successes, Juan Gabriel has been a compassionate and generous philanthropist. He has donated all proceeds from approximately 10 performances a year to his favorite children's foster homes, and proceeds from fan photo-ops go to support Mexican orphans. In 1987, he founded Semjase, an orphanage for approximately 120 children, which also serves as a music school with music, recreation and video game rooms. Today, he continues to personally fund the school he opened more than 22 years ago.   

Juan Gabriel will have the distinction of becoming the 10th Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year honoree, and joins a list of artists such as Gloria Estefan, Gilberto Gil, Juan Luis Guerra, Julio Iglesias, Ricky Martin, and Carlos Santana among others who have been recognized. 

For information on purchasing tickets or tables to The Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year tribute to Juan Gabriel, please contact The Latin Recording Academy ticketing office at 310.314.8281 or

Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013
Grizzled Mighty perform at Bumbershoot on Sept. 1

Photo: The Recording Academy


Set List Bonus: Bumbershoot 2013

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Alexa Zaske

This past Labor Day weekend meant one thing for many folks in Seattle: Bumbershoot, a three-decade-old music and arts event that consumed the area surrounding the Space Needle from Aug. 31–Sept. 2. Amid attendees wandering around dressed as zombies and participating in festival-planned flash mobs to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," this year the focus was on music from the Pacific Northwest region — from the soulful sounds of Allen Stone and legendary female rockers Heart, to the highly-awaited return of Death Cab For Cutie performing their 2003 hit album Transatlanticism in its entirety.

The festival started off on day one with performances by synth-pop group the Flavr Blue, hip-hop artist Grynch, rapper Nacho Picasso, psychedelic pop group Beat Connection, lively rapper/writer George Watsky, hip-hop group the Physics, and (my personal favorite), punk/dance band !!! (Chk Chk Chk). Also performing on day one was Seattle folk singer/songwriter Kris Orlowski, who was accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet. As always, Orlowski's songs were catchy and endearing yet brilliant and honest.

Day one came to a scorching finale with a full set from GRAMMY-nominated rock group Heart. Kicking off with their Top 20 hit "Barracuda," the set spanned three decades of songs, including "Heartless," "Magic Man" and "What About Love?" It became a gathering of Seattle rock greats when, during Heart's final song, Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready joined for 1976's "Crazy On You."

Day two got off to an early start with performances from eccentric Seattle group Kithkin and Seattle ladies Mary Lambert and Shelby Earl, who were accompanied by the band Le Wrens. My highlight of the day was the Grizzled Mighty — a duo with a bigger sound than most family sized bands. Drummer Whitney Petty, whose stage presence and skills make for an exciting performance, was balanced out by the easy listening of guitarist and lead singer Ryan Granger.

Then the long-awaited moment finally fell upon Seattle when, after wrapping a long-awaited tour with the Postal Service, singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard returned to Seattle to represent another great success of the Pacific Northwest — Death Cab For Cutie. The band celebrated the 10-year anniversary of their album Transatlanticism by performing it from front to back. While a majority of attendees opted to watch the set from an air-conditioned arena, some of us recognized the uniqueness of this experience and enjoyed the entire set lying in the grass where the entire performance was streamed. 

Monday was the day for soul and folk. Local blues/R&B group Hot Bodies In Motion have been making their way through the Seattle scene with songs such as "Old Habits," "That Darkness" and "The Pulse." Their set was lively and enticing to people who have seen them multiple times or never at all.

My other highlights of the festival included the Maldives, who delivered a fun performance with the perfect amount of satirical humor and folk. They represent the increasing number of Pacific Northwest bands who consist of many members playing different sounds while still managing to stay cohesive and simple. I embraced the return of folk/pop duo Ivan & Alyosha with open arms and later closed my festival experience with local favorite Stone.

For music fans in Seattle and beyond, the annual Bumbershoot festival is a must-attend.

(Alexa Zaske is the Chapter Assistant for The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter. She's a music enthusiast and obsessed with the local Seattle scene.)

Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Neil Portnow and Jimmy Jam

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images


Neil Portnow Addresses Diversity & Inclusion, Looks Ahead During Speech At 2019 GRAMMYs

Jimmy Jam helps celebrate the outgoing President/CEO of the Recording Academy on the 61st GRAMMY Awards

GRAMMYs/Feb 11, 2019 - 10:58 am

As Neil Portnow's tenure as Recording Academy President/CEO draws to its end, five-time GRAMMY winner Jimmy Jam paid tribute to his friend and walked us through a brief overview of some of the Academy's major recent achievements, including the invaluable work of MusiCares, the GRAMMY Museum, Advocacy and more.

Portnow delivered a brief speech, acknowledging the need to continue to focus on issues of diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He also seized the golden opportunity to say the words he's always wanted to say on the GRAMMY stage, saying, "I'd like to thank the Academy," showing his gratitude and respect for the staff, elected leaders and music community he's worked with during his career at the Recording Academy. "We can be so proud of what we’ve all accomplished together," Portnow added.

"As I finish out my term leading this great organization, my heart and soul are filled with gratitude, pride, for the opportunity and unequal experience," he continued. "Please know that my commitment to all the good that we do will carry on as we turn the page on the next chapter of the storied history of this phenomenal institution."

Full Winners List: 61st GRAMMY Awards