At 7 p.m. Dec. 31, Uncle Charlie—R&B/funk musician and producer Charlie Wilson—will be performing at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. The 11-time Grammy and three-time NAACP Image Award nominee is currently touring America, and his final stop is on New Year’s Eve for a big celebration in Newark.

“I just always want to bring my best, a show like no one has ever seen before,” Wilson stated.

The legendary Wilson was born and raised in Tulsa, Okla. His parents were ministers at their own Pentecostal church. Wilson and his two brothers, Ronnie and Robert, were encouraged to perform at the church. The Wilson brothers also took music lessons and learned to play various instruments.  By the time Wilson was 13, the bothers formed their own music group and called themselves the GAP Band. GAP was an acronym for their street names Greenwood, Archer and Pine.

“When we first started we were just doing it for fun,” Wilson said on AmNews editor Nayaba Arinde’s “Back to Basics” radio show. “We performed at places like the YMCA and didn’t really think much of it. But then we started to perform for older crowds and saw how much they loved us and our music. We thought to ourselves that there is a possibility we could be a successful R&B/funk group, and we were right!” By 1980, the GAP Band was a success. The brothers had a gold album and songs that were listed on the Top 10 R&B and Billboard hit lists. The Wilson brothers worked with several artists, including Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige and Da Brat. They also produce classics such as “You Dropped a Bomb on Me,” “Outstanding,” “Early in the Morning” and “Burn Rubber on Me.”

Of all his mega hits, though, Wilson says his personal favorite is “There Goes My Baby.” 

In 2000, Wilson decided to go solo, but he continued to make appearances with his brothers. He produced his first album with the help of various songwriters in 2005. The album was certified gold after his hit single “Charlie, Last Name Wilson.” In 2010, brother Robert died of a heart attack in his home. The surviving brothers decided to end the GAP Band. 

In January 2015, Wilson released his album “Forever Charlie” and went on an eight-week sold-out national tour. Months later, he released his New York Times best-seller and Washington Post best-seller memoir, “I Am Charlie Wilson.” The memoir also received honorary mentions from the Black Caucus of American Library Associations, Inc. 

He speaks often about his recovery from homelessness and substance abuse. He talks about his journey and his gratitude for it. As he promotes his new album, “In It to Win It,” he has been nominated for three awards from the NAACP and two from the Grammy’s for his albums. “I appreciate those who support me and love my music,” he said. “It makes me so emotional to hear that there are people who still want to hear new music from me. I want to make my fans happy with my work. That’s why I put so much heart and dedication to it. I can’t wait to show them what I have stored for them.” 

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