R&B Legend Charlie Wilson is taking his music career to new heights with his “In It to Win It Tour” and shows no sign of stopping. The “Charlie, Last Name Wilson” singer sat down in an exclusive interview with the Los Angeles Sentinel to share the reasons why he still loves music and why his voice continues to captivate audiences across all generations.
LAS: Tell us about “In it To Win It” and what this album signifies.
CW: It’s obvious that I’ve been around for a very long time and I’ve overcome a lot of obstacles in my life, a lot of adversity, and it’s obvious that I’m in it to win it and I’ve never given up. I’ve never stopped and people tried to get me to retire, and so I had to try to inspire so many people about staying down for what it is you love to do. I decided that I was not going to ever wait or ever stop because of what I’ve been through. I’m in it to win it. I made sure that that was the title we were going to use. It signifies that I’m not giving up.
LAS: Tell us more about the album and what we can expect.
CW: A lot of records on this album are so incredibly done with so much finesse, and some music signifies the era that I was in. Some sounds were from the 70s, 80s and 90s and I love that era, so I put some of those sounds in this record. I had a really good time recording it. It took me a year, I had 35 records, almost 40 records really and carved out like 12 or 13 records to put on this album this time. I have a lot of records that I’m still recording now. I notice that it’s possible to get tired of recording, so I’m just going to continue recording, even while we’re on the road.
LAS: You’ve made several transitions throughout your career from the Gap Band to your now long time solo career, and you also work with some of today’s hip hop favorites like Snoop Dogg, T.I. and Wiz Khalifa. What keeps you motivated, and what inspires you cross generational lines in music?
When I’m telling a story, sometimes I would like to have another generation of music makers to tell their side of the story to my fans, to their fans as well. So if I’m saying I’m blessed, and T.I. says ‘let me holla’ at em Uncle Charlie’, so that means he can talk to his fans and my fans about how blessed he is and how blessed people are. He came out of the hood, it was hard in the hood where he was, so he understands what it feels like to come up and what it feels like to be down, so he can talk to these people. Same thing with Wiz, he has a way of saying how he feels about his girl, ‘girl I love you’ you know, so it’s always good to get another generation, maybe some kids you’re not reaching. I love other genres, I love other rappers, singers, pop singers, R&B singers, jazz singers, I love all these people that make good music.
LAS: The tour has an incredible lineup of co-stars, what has been your experience touring with Fantasia and Johnny Gill?
First, they’re great entertainers and when you put the three of us together it’s monstrous. It was like Godzilla and Rodan, it’s just monstrous when you have all three of us on a tour together, I mean you gotta’ know what you’re getting to get. You should just wear your tennis shoes to the show, regardless if it’s snowing or what because you need to be in some softer shoes so you can be moving along, cuz’ we bout’ to shut the building down, me and my co-stars, we bout’ to shut it down, that’s real talk right there.
LAS: Tell us about the single “I’m Blessed” and why you are so blessed?
CW:Isn’t that a great title? I’ve been wanting to say on record how good God’s been to me for a very long time, it’s just great to say. I’m blessed and highly favored and it’s just a great record. I just knew it was time for me to say something to God and I’ve been saying it but to put it on a record, I thought it would just even be better. People will be able to listen to that record 50 years, 100 years from now. The way technology is now, it’s not on vinyl, it’s digital and you can be able to get it.
LAS: You’ve made such timeless music, is that intentional?
CW: I clearly try to make great music all the time, and if I can do it in a fashion that stays around for a very long time and it doesn’t have a moment on it – a lot of people just make records for the moment, just for today and I don’t make records like that, I just make records that feel good to me and if it feels good to me then it’s going to feel good a long time.
LAS: What do you do when you’re not performing?
CW: I’m probably performing all the time; it’s just in different ways. I’m always performing, I’m always laughing, making jokes, doing something, so I’m always on the stage, I’m just not in front of thousands-and-thousands of people. I try to keep my life fun. I have a young spirit, and the young spirit likes to play a lot. I know that at a certain time the body is going to give out, but I stay in shape, because usually, right now, people wouldn’t try to be doing what I do on stage.
In fact, Wilson says he works out 4-5 times per week to handle the “cardio” he does on stage. Wilson says he plans to take a vacation with his wife, but that because of their busy schedule, they’ve discovered creative ways to bring the “vacation” to their home, befitting for their Aquarian interests.
It’s evident that as Wilson’s music keeps coming, we’ll continue listening. Charlie Wilson plans to bring the “In It to Win It Tour” to Los Angeles March 8 at the Microsoft Theatre.