By Britt Bickel

Headlining Friday night at the first ever Payne Pest Management San Diego Jazz Festival is one of the most exciting performers out there now. Singer Charlie Wilson, formerly of the Gap Band, is known for his funky, soulful sound and the exciting energy he always brings to his live shows.

“The stage is where I’ve always lived, where I’ve had my most enjoyment. I love to see the fans…I just put on a show for them,” Charlie said in an interview with The WAVE’s Pat Prescott. “I have a really young spirit and I just love to perform for people. When they make noise, oh my God, that just ignites the fuel!”

With an extensive music career since the late ’70s, Charlie has managed to stay in the game and continue a successful solo career over the years with the help of collaborating with new artists.

Charlie says he keeps his name current by collaborating with many R&B and hip hop artists like Snoop Dogg (a good friend of his who gave him the nickname “Uncle Charlie”), Pharrell, Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, John Legend and the list goes on.

“It’s a lot of fun…I stand toe to toe with a lot of them. I’ve been having a lot of fun in my life here lately,” said Charlie.

Much of Charlie’s optimistic outlook and living life to the fullest stems from coming face to face with a health scare a few years back. Charlie was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 2008, but thanks to early detection, is now cancer-free.

“I was diagnosed in 2008,” Charlie explained, saying that his wife urged him to get a check up. “The good news was it was early detection…so we went and took care of it, and I wanted to speak out about it. So we teamed up with the Prostate Cancer Foundation – they gave me a platform to speak and I just started talking to African-American men all around the country.”

Charlie continues to speak out as the national spokesman of the PCF to urge other men to get a check-up to diagnose prostate cancer early, which could mean life or death.

Raising awareness of this health issue is just one of the many causes close to Charlie’s heart. He’s also an adamant supporter of our troops and has visited Iraq four times in the last three years to perform a show just for the brave men and women serving our country.

“To bring morale to those soldiers that go outside the wire and fight for our nation, it’s a wonderful thing,” said Charlie.

In just a couple weeks, you can see Charlie Wilson right here in SoCal on the opening night of the San Diego Jazz Festival on Friday, May 24th. For tickets and more information on the show, visit

Listen to our full interview with Charlie in the segments below.

Part one: Charlie talks about his energetic stage presence and putting on a show for the audience.

Part two: Charlie talks about being diagnosed with prostate cancer, becoming cancer free, and now speaking out on the health issue to help raise awareness for others.

Part three: Charlie talks about how his wife helped him through struggles in life and what she means to him.


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