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Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band to welcome the New Year here

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Charlie Wilson;
Ledisi

♦ 8 p.m. Monday

♦ Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State

♦ Tickets, $78-$128

♦ (800) 745-3000;
ticketmaster.com

Updated: January 30, 2013 6:03AM



As lead singer of funk group the Gap Band, Charlie Wilson enjoyed a string of hits in the 1970s and 1980s before losing his musical momentum to drugs and alcohol. After a stint in rehab, Wilson got his career back on track as a trusted adviser for some prominent rappers.

Wilson is now enjoying success as a solo artist. He performs songs from his musical career, which spans nearly four decades, during a New Year’s Eve concert at the Chicago Theatre.

“I will be bringing my old hits from the Gap Band and all of the new songs that I put out as a solo artist,” Wilson said.

Wilson’s resurgence into the music industry began in 1996 when rapper Snoop Dogg reached out to him for a musical collaboration, the singer said. “Snoop was the first to say, ‘Hey, I heard you were clean and sober. Come and do this thing for me,’ ” Wilson said.

Wilson soon found himself working with artists such as Master P, Pharrell, R. Kelly, Jay-Z and Kanye West. “I am the guy that the hip-hoppers came to for hooks,” Wilson said. “I ended up being the bridge from hip-hop to R&B.”

Wilson’s work with hip-hop artists led to a new moniker.

“They call me Uncle Charlie because I am the coolest uncle you can get,” he said. “When they ask me to do something, I do it. When they are having a problem, I spit the real truth. They respect that and it is the reason they keep calling for me. Not only can I sing, but I have some knowledge for them.”

Wilson credits his work with the hip-hop generation for helping his career endure when others in the music industry thought he was “washed up.”Wilson maintains a link to the past through collaborations with friends such as R&B singer Keith Sweat, who is featured on his single, “Whisper,” from his new album, “Love, Charlie.” That album, his fifth, is due out on Wilson’s birthday, Jan. 29.

“Every record on this album has to do with love,” Wilson said. “My wife taught me how to love for real.” Wilson met his wife while he was undergoing rehab. They have been married for 18 years.

Even recent back surgery hasn’t stopped Wilson.

“Performing is my passion,” he said.



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