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Black Music Month: Charlie Wilson Knows Real Refrain

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As a salute to Black Music Month, NY1's Dean Meminger takes a look at some of the industry's recording artists who enjoyed chart topping success, not unlike Charlie Wilson, and filed the following report.

He has a golden voice and has been using it for more than 30 years to woo his fans. And he wants to make sure they don't forget his name or his silky sound any time soon.

Charlie Wilson is riding a wave of musical success in the R&B world. His hit, “You Are” is considered a true wedding song of the season and is constantly played on urban radio stations.

"I’m used to the kind of number ones. But man, you start getting past four weeks, you are talking about two months at number one. That’s a long time at number one," says Wilson.

Charlie Wilson first hit it big back in the late 1970s and early 80’s as the lead singer of “The Gap Band” which consisted of him and his two brothers.

“It was sex, drugs and rock and roll. That is how we first came into the game of music.
We were hanging out with rock and rollers," recalls Wilson.

He says the success and superstar life lead to heavy drug use. That lead to homelessness, actually living in a cardboard box. But in 2005, with his voice still intact, he landed on his feet with the hit “Charlie, Last name Wilson." He says nowadays his music and a good life are all the high he needs."

"My environment is safe. I’m enjoying this more than any success that I had with the Gap Band. Trust me when I tell you that," says Wilson. “I’m sober, I understand when I wake up, knowing where I’m at . It is just great.”

Recently, two generations of fans were rocking to his music at the Paradise Theater in the Bronx. Some say they were surprised to find out he's been performing for so long.

“I was honored by Soul Train. And nearly 60 percent of the people who watched did not know that I was the lead singer of the Gap Band. I was really shocked," says Wilson.

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