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Charlie Wilson gets bigger -- and, he says, better -- this year

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Charlie Wilson went big on the road this year.


To promote his latest album, "Forever Charlie," the former Gap Band singer and solo artist known as "Uncle" to myriad R&B singers and rappers, decided to move from his usual theaters to larger arenas and amphitheaters. "I just thought there was more to my career than just doing theaters," explains Wilson, 62. "I had been selling them out by myself, and I was like, 'Is this it?' I've always wanted to do arenas or stadiums. I had this dream of mine to achieve it.

"Basically I just asked my manager, 'Hey man, why come we can't do arenas?' He said, 'We can if you want to. The only thing is if we don't sell the tickets we're gonna look like idiots.' And then he said, 'But on the other side of that coin, if we start selling tickets we're gonna look like geniuses.' I said, 'I like that sound better, so let's go for it.'

"And the first time they put the ticket sales up we sold out! It was like, 'We can do this!' and we've had the biggest-grossing R&B tour out. The fans are hear by the thousands, and it's great, man."

Wilson -- whose memoir "I Am Charlie Wilson" publishes on June 30 -- fesses up to a few mistakes with the expanded choreography for the bigger stage. "There's a few more feet to travel," he notes, "and sometimes I miscount and we end up on the wrong side. It took me about two shows to get that right." But the Gap Band's success made sure he was acclimated to singing in big halls.

The Forever Charlie Tour also features Joe and Detroit's KEM, and Wilson says the latter has been a great addition to the package.

"Y'know, KEM is an incredible artist," Wilson says. "He's fantastic to work with and just an incredible entertainer and a beautiful spirit. I chose him; I knew who I wanted to go on this tour wtih me, and I'm happy to have him."

Charlie Wilson, Joe and KEM

7 p.m. Saturday, June 13.

DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

Tickets are $39.50-$126 pavilion, $29.50 lawn with an $80 lawn four-pack.

Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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