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Charlie Wilson at Joe Louis, 5 Things To Know

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Being 64, and a prostate cancer survivor, is not slowing Charlie Wilson down. At all.

The R&B singer and Gap Band co-founder releases a new album, "In It To Win It," on Friday, Feb. 17, and has just started a tour to support it. The set features guest appearances from Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, T.I., Robin Thicke, Lalah Hathaway and others, and Wilson has plans for another album (maybe even two) to follow it sooner rather than later.

But first the man so many know as "Uncle Charlie" is focusing on winning it on the road...

The In It To Win It Tour is Wilson's second arena headlining jaunt, a rare venue for artists in his genre. He acknowledges that the move from theaters was risky but is happy it paid off. "I wanted to take it to a bigger stage and everybody said I was crazy," Wilson says by phone from his home in California. "They said, 'Man, we're gonna look stupid of we don't sell no tickets,' and I was like, 'Man, I'm not interested in what people think of me no more. I'm just way past that point. We need to go try this.' And we put it in the arenas and 97 percent of the arenas sold out when we put 'em up. That was last year, and here we go again."

Wilson is no stranger to collaborating; In addition to guests on his own albums he's featured for the likes of Kanye West, Snoop Dogg, Pharrell, Eurythmics and many others. The demand, he says, is gratifying. "I'm blessed, man," he notes. "It's a great feeling to know that your peers -- especially another demographic of singers and rappers or writers and producers -- everybody wants to reach and touch me. It's a beautiful thing to know people are still looking at me. Evidentially I must still be good enough for them to keep looking at me. They want to touch me. Everybody wants to get on (his albums), everybody wants me on their records."

Wilson was prolific in making "In It To Win It," recording more than 40 songs, by his estimation, with plenty of guests. "There's just so much material and so much information that I just didn't get a chance it put it all on," he explains. "I wish I could've put out 35 songs. Nobody's ever done that, but then that would be like a movie -- too big. We worked on this record over a year and I had, like, 35 or 40 songs. I was trying to get 12 on the album and I wound up with 13. But I really had a great time picking songs and going to the edge a little bit and just having fun, basically."

Wilson already has a plan and concept for his next album. "I have songs that I didn't get a chance to put on ('In It To Win It'), a lot of them with my favorite jazz players on them, Boney James and some other cats" he says. "I've cut all the records, but I have not entitled it or anything. I'm jut going to focus on 'In It To Win It' and then I'll get to that."

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Wilson's first solo album, "You Turn My Life Around." "It seems like 25 minutes because I have not been counting the years of what it is I've been doing," he says. "I've just been doing and floating and having fun and going from there to there, and I have not taken time to look at numbers because once you start looking at numbers then you start thinking about what your age is. And I don't trip on numbers except for what I put in the band. Those are the only numbers I'm looking at."

Charlie Wilson, Fantasia and Johnny Gill

7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17.

Joe Louis Arena, 19 Yzerman Drive, Detroit.

Tickets are $48-$103.

Call 313-471-6606 or visit olympiaentertainment.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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