With the Gap Band, “Uncle” Charlie Wilson dropped a bomb on the music world in 1982. But on his fifth solo album — “Just Charlie,” which came out in December — the veteran R&B singer is trying to drop a different kind of message on listeners.
“I wanted to have (songs) to teach men how to treat women and what to say to them,” explains Wilson, 58, who was nominated for a Grammy Award earlier this year for his 2009 album “Uncle Charlie.” “We have a whole generation of kids where the women are used to being called ‘hood rat’ and ‘hootchie mama’ and the B word. I’m trying to change the lingo of how we speak to women.
“And I was just in the airport the other day, and a young man who must’ve been 20 came up to me and said, ‘I got your album, man. I wish we could hear more music like this.’ So I’m reaching them. That’s my job now.”
Wilson is also reaching young R&B and hip-hop artists, too — and not just Snoop Dogg, who had fans convinced that Wilson really [i]is[/i] his uncle when, in fact, he’s a longtime family friend. Wilson welcomes the attention, but he says he doesn’t say yes to every project that comes his way.
“So many people like will.i.am or Kanye West, everybody’s like, ‘Let me do this next project. Let me get you to the urban world or the rhythmatic world,’ cause I can sing any kind of music,” says Wilson, who’s next “Just Charlie” single is a cover of Zapp’s “I Wanna Be Your Man” with Fantasia. “There’s a lot of people knocking at my door to do projects.
“But I’m not the guy who just likes to come sing hooks and do choruses for everybody else’s songs. That’s not what I’m looking to do in life, so I had to turn a lot of them down. We definitely want to stay focused on ‘Just Charlie’ for right now.”
Charlie Wilson and En Vogue perform at 8 p.m Saturday, March 12, at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $59-89. Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to