by Genea L. Webb
For New Pittsburgh Courier
The last time Charlie Wilson performed in Pittsburgh, he was doing it for the ladies. This time around he’s focused on mothers.
Wilson will be headlining a Live & In Concert tour, which will be stopping by the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $42.
The show will be hosted by the North Side Coalition for Fair Housing. The organization was created during the summer of 1998 to respond to the mass exodus of more than 300 families living in the North Side Associates Properties, A HUD multi-family property.
Its mission is to engage in activities that preserve the long-term affordability, quality and diversity of housing in the North Side while improving the quality of life for its residents.
Proceeds will benefit the sixth annual Women’s Walk for Peace. The walk, which typically takes place in early September, consists of a two-mile walk starting at the Pittsburgh Project on North Side’s Charles Street, winding its way through North Side neighborhoods before ending at West Park near the National Aviary. For more information on Women’s Walk for Peace or the North Side Coalition for Fair Housing, visit www.womenswalk.org or call 412-321-5527.
“We’re going to be giving it to you. We’ve got new music and people can expect to have a great time. I love Pittsburgh. One of our (The Gap Band) songs was created on stage in Pittsburgh,” Wilson recalled. “We had an encore after one of the Gap Band concerts and people in the audience wanted us to come out again and they were chanting something. We didn’t know what they were saying, but it was catchy and that’s where ‘Oops Upside Your Head’ came from.”
In addition to GAP Band chart toppers, Wilson will be performing songs from his recently released fourth solo album, “Love, Charlie,” which was released through P Music/MCA Records.
The set will include the No. 1 Billboard Urban Adult Contemporary chart-topping “My Love is All I Have,” the inspirational “If I Believe,” which opens the album and his second single which is burning up the charts, “Turn Off the Lights.”
“I poured my heart into ‘Love, Charlie.’ With this album I didn’t want to be on the road and recording simultaneously. I wanted to take my time. I told my manager to cut out some time so I could comfortably record the album and I wouldn’t be sounding hoarse or rushing and the manager did that,” said Wilson, who hails from Oklahoma but resides on a farm in Los Angeles with his wife, Mahin.
“The game plan was basic: each song needed to have single potential. If it didn’t sound like it could be heard on the radio, I didn’t want it on the record. But I had to decide what would be released first, second, third,” Wilson continued.
Wilson appeared on the music scene in 1972 as front man of the funkadelic group, the GAP Band alongside his brothers Robert and Ronnie. The group released hits like “Outstanding,” “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” and “Party Train.” The brothers released 15 albums and retired in 2010.
Wilson released his first solo album, “Charlie, Last Name Wilson” in 2005. It was produced by R. Kelly, Justin Timberlake and Will.i.am.
2009 found Wilson releasing his second solo effort, “Uncle Charlie,” which debuted at no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and received dual Grammy nods in 2010 for the classy “There Goes My Baby.” Later that year he released “Just Charlie,” which spawned the wedding classic, “You Are.”
“My fans told me a while back to give them mid-tempo ballads. The Gap Band could do up tempo songs and ballads. I know that women appreciate the ballads,” Wilson said. “I approach every song like it’s my last. I love recording and I try to make the best songs that I can.”
Joining Wilson on the tour for their first-ever concert in the Steel City is R& B Band Mint Condition. The group was started by Central High School students in St. Paul, Minn., in the mid 1980’s. The group’s latest album,” Music At the Speed of Life,” was released in 2012.
Wilson is excited to have the band join him on stage.
“Mint Condition is the greatest band in the world. Each guy is incredible. I’m a musician first, too and speaking from a vocalist standpoint, Stokley is one of the greatest singers we have alive today.”
In addition to his 75 to 100 shows he performs a year, Wilson still finds time in his schedule to give back to the community. He is passionate about promoting awareness and educating the African male population on the statistics of Prostate cancer, disease that affects one in six American men and one in three Black men. Wilson is a survivor of the disease.
“In 2008, I wanted to tell the world and I wanted to share my story,” Wilson said. “When I first heard the news of my diagnosis, I thought my life was over but it wasn’t. Take a loved one to the doctor so that you can absorb all of the information. When I heard the word ‘cancer’ that’s all I heard.”
In 2008 he became a spokesperson for the Prostate Cancer Foundation and in April of last year he announced a partnership with Janssen Biotech to launch the company’s Making Awareness a Priority (M.A.P.). The initiative brings together leading voices in advocacy and health education through live events in select cities across the country. For more information visit www.myrpostatecancerroadmap.com.
“Now I wanted to do something bigger and this partnership allows me to be involved with different grassroots projects and talk to younger men,” Wilson said. “Prostate cancer is a silent killer and Biotech gave me a place to talk about it. I do a lot of performing and I said it was time for me to start informing.
“Millions of men have gotten checkups and PSA tests, but a lot of men don’t think about it. I’m a voice and messenger,” the candid performer continued. “I continue to inspire people with music and inform African-American men and tell them to get early detection.”
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