Charlie Wilson: ‘People Told Me I Was Washed Up’

Photo by Michael Rowe
Charli Wilson reveals his past of once being called "old and washed up." 

R&B legend Charlie Wilson had everyone on their feet and singing every lyric to hits like “There Goes My Baby” and “Charlie, Last Name Wilson” during his main stage performance at this year’s ESSENCE Fest. With his energy and iconic voice, it’s hard to believe that music executives once told the former leader of the Gap Band that he was “washed up.”

The entertainer opened up about his newly released memoir, titled “I Am Charlie Wilson,” in a sit down interview at the festival’s Center Stage. He told he’s keeping it real about his past addiction and homelessness after success. 

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“I was in the Gap Band for most of my life and I ended up homeless from drugs and alcohol,” he shared. “I’m going to show you in this book how I got up, and a lot of people don’t know how to get up. A lot of people are trapped in the drug world and they don’t think it’s a way out.”

He went on to share just how he picked himself up out of that dark place. “First off, I ain't never stop believing in God. And I never stopped believing in myself, even though people told me I was washed up. Do I look washed up to you?!” 

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“I didn’t know I was inspiring people. When I realized I was an inspiration, I thought I should share this story of redemption,” he continued. “I know you have family members who are still getting high and or doing crazy stuff, gang banging or whatever. They don’t think it’s a way out. In this book, I am going to show you how to get up off the ground.”  

Uncle Charlie left the audience with a gem. “God is always with you and he always has you back. Remember that,” he said. “Don’t ever give up on yourself.” 

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