Charlie Kent Wilson, born January 29, 1953, started his career in music as the lead vocalist of the Gap Band, formed with his brothers in 1967. The band gained chart-topping success, especially in the 1980s, and developed a unique style of funk music. In 1992, Wilson ventured into solo projects achieving success as an individual artist. He has released eight solo albums and collaborated with many prominent artists in the industry. He has been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards and 11 N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards. We celebrate his career milestones on his birthday.
Charlie Kent Wilson was born on January 29, 1953, and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he attended Booker T. Washington high school. Wilson sang in his junior high school’s choir, which set the foundation for his future musical career. He went on to attend Langston University, where he became a drum major in the Langston University Marching Pride.
In 1967, he formed The Gap Band with his brothers, which soon became associated with an upbeat style of funk music that gained widespread popularity. They released their debut album in 1974 titled “Magicians Holiday” under Shelter Records. The Gap Band went on to release a total of 15 albums before retiring in 2010. They have a slate of massive hits to their name, such as ‘Outstanding,’ ‘Party Train,’ ‘Yearning For Your Love,’ ‘Burn Rubber on Me,’ ‘You Dropped a Bomb on Me,’ and ‘Oops Upside You.’ While Wilson was with the band, he released five solo albums, “You Turn My Life Around” (1992), “Bridging the Gap” (2000), “Charlie, Last Name Wilson” (2005), “Uncle Charlie” (2009), and “Just Charlie” (2010). The final three albums were distributed by Jive Records and “Charlie, Last Name Wilson,” which had several successful producers and was given a gold certification by the R.I.A.A.
He released three more albums after his band retired, “Love, Charlie” (2013), “Forever Charlie” (2015), and “In it to win it” (2017). Wilson has received 13 Grammy nominations for Best R.&.B. Performance, Best R.&.B. Album, and Best Rap Song/Collaboration. He was the recipient of two N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards for ‘Outstanding Album’ in 2014 for “Love, Charlie” and the Music Makes a Difference Honor in 2018. He has also been awarded many prestigious honors and acknowledgments as a solo artist and part of The Gap Band. He has steadily topped the Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary chart with P Music/Jive Records. Wilson’s career includes several successful collaborations, and he has been featured in many prominent artists’ songs and albums, such as Snoop Dogg, Eurythmics, R. Kelly, Kanye West, and Bruno Mars.
Wilson focuses most of his time on supporting American troops, particularly in the Middle East. Earlier, he struggled with drug and alcohol addictions and entered a rehabilitation program in 1995. In the same year, he married Mahin Tat, his social worker. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, which was treated successfully with implants. Wilson continues encouraging Black men to get screened via the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
The Wilson brothers create their own style of funk music with The Gap Band.
The Gap Band releases their debut album titled “Magician’s Holiday.”
Wilson begins to record R.&.B. songs as an individual artist.
Wilson’s third album, “Charlie, Last Name Wilson” is certified gold by the R.I.A.A.
The Gap Band announces their retirement, and Wilson focuses on his solo career.
Wilson is awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by B.E.T.
Wilson is awarded the Music Makes a Difference Honor by the N.A.A.C.P. Image Awards.
Why We Love Charlie Wilson
He is a chart topper
“Uncle Charlie” (2009) debuted at No.1 on the Billboard R.&.B./Hip-Hop chart and No.2 on the Billboard Hot 200. His hit single ‘You Are’ from the Album “Just Charlie” (2010) retained the No.1 spot on the Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary chart and the Media base chart for 13 and 15 weeks, respectively.
His relationship with Snoop Dogg
Wilson is close friends with Dogg and has worked on many collaborations with him during his career. He has featured on four of Dogg’s albums, “The Dogfather” in 1996 and most recently “Ego Trippin’” in 2008. Dogg and his wife renewed their vows at Wilson’s ranch in 2008, and Wilson featured them in the music video to “There Goes My Baby” as a gift to commemorate their friendship.
He has overcome cancer
Since overcoming prostate cancer in 2008, Wilson has worked closely with the Prostate Cancer Foundation as their national spokesman to encourage Black men, in particular, to get tested for the same. The Creativity Award is awarded in his name to unfunded researchers across the nation to develop creative science. He provided vocals for Lupe Fiasco’s song, ‘Mission,’ about cancer survivors.
5 Surprising Facts
The origin of the Gap Band’s name
’GAP’ in the Gap Band is shortened from ‘Greenwood, Archer, Pine,’ reflecting the band’s origins.
He has sold over a million copies
In totality, Wilson’s albums have sold more than one million copies.
His nickname is Uncle Charlie
Wilson was given his famous nickname by his good friend and fellow artist Snoop Dogg.
He performed for the U.S. troops
Wilson was asked to play for the military at five different bases in Kuwait in 2011 by the U.S. Armed Forces.
He was homeless for two years
Wilson struggled with addiction in the ‘90s and used to sleep on the streets of Hollywood Boulevard from 1993 to 1995.
Charlie Wilson FAQs
Are Charlie Wilson and Snoop Dogg related?
No, they have known each other for years. They have a mutually beneficial personal and musical relationship, having worked on many collaborations.
Who died from The Gap Band?
Both of Wilson’s brothers have sadly passed away. His older brother Ronnie passed away following a stroke in 2021, and his younger brother Robert died of a heart attack in 2010.
Did Charlie Wilson have surgery?
Yes, in 2013, Wilson had to undergo back surgery for a herniated disk.
Charlie Wilson’s birthday dates