Some people might say that after notching eight No. 1 singles, 11 Grammy Award nominations, a best-selling memoir and ongoing sold-out, coast-to-coast arena tours, Charlie Wilson has proven his point….and he isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon.
“I’ve been in this game for many years,” reflects the Gap Band co-founder and solo star. “I’ve had some big hit records and sold a lot of records. But I need to still show people that I’m in it. It’s championship time.”
Wilson underscores that declaration with his latest album, In It to Win It (P Music Group/RCA, Feb. 17). The set boasts lead single “I’m Blessed” featuring T.I., currently top 10 Billboard and fastest rising top ten single this year on the Urban Adult Contemporary chart.
Coinciding with the new album’s arrival is Wilson’s In It to Win It national arena tour with Fantasia and Johnny Gill kicking off Feb. 8 in Norfolk, VA and will continue throughout the U.S. with 29 dates through the end of March.
“’I’m Blessed’ says exactly where I am in my life, blessed to still be making music that people want to hear,” says Wilson. "2016 was a tough year for so many people around the world, so I’m proud to release a song to remind us that we can all find some blessings in our lives. And having T.I. bring his flavor, sharing who he is and how his journey is filled with blessings, is an added bonus."
Breaking away from the tradition of using his name in the album title, Wilson also recruited an A-Team of guest features for his seventh solo album. Joining T.I. as first-timers in that circle: Pitbull, Wiz Khalifa, Robin Thicke and Lalah Hathaway. Wilson, who executive produced the 13-track album along with long time manager, Michael Paran, reunited once again with The Cartoons (Emile Ghantous, Steve Daly and Keith Hetrick), Gregg Pagani and Wirlie Morris on the creative side. New to the mix this time around: fellow songwriter/producers J.R. Rotem (Jason Derulo, Gwen Stefani, Empire), Eric Hudson (Kanye West, John Legend) and Rob Knox (Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, T.I.).
“In addition to working with our talented core of producers, one of our goals was to add some new talent to the team,” stated Paran. “I was excited to bring in J.R. Rotem, Eric Hudson and Rob Knox to the project as they added an adrenaline shot to the recording process and really inspired Charlie to cut all kinds of music. I can truly say Charlie had a lot of fun recording this album and you can hear that reflected in the music.”
Together, the team crafted a package that fully encompasses Wilson’s unlimited reach. He explores the synergy between pop and R&B with Thicke on the mid-tempo “Smile for Me” (“You can’t tell our vocals apart sometimes,” says Wilson). Then he and Pitbull double-down on the party track “Good Time.”