Charlie Wilson - In It To Win It (2017)

Charlie Wilson
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“When I got to college, I’ll never forget; one of my professors told me that I wasn’t going to be nothing in life, that I was going to end up in an alley. And it kinda ended up that way, at least for awhile...”

 It’s an anecdote that could have been lifted from the pages of his 2016 best-selling memoir, I Am Charlie Wilson, but the words do more than share memories from his past---they bring into focus a clearer picture of the man behind the music, a move that can only endear listeners more as they listen to the pain and the power of In It to Win It, the soul legend’s most expansive musical release to date. 

“When I got to college, I’ll never forget; one of my professors told me that I wasn’t going to be nothing in life, that I was going to end up in an alley. And it kinda ended up that way, at least for awhile...”

 It’s an anecdote that could have been lifted from the pages of his 2016 best-selling memoir, I Am Charlie Wilson, but the words do more than share memories from his past---they bring into focus a clearer picture of the man behind the music, a move that can only endear listeners more as they listen to the pain and the power of In It to Win It, the soul legend’s most expansive musical release to date. 

The ascent, descent, and resurgence of Uncle Charlie is the stuff of dreams: most musicians who first hit the charts decades ago are no longer breathing, much less in-demand enough to keep performing. Yet despite the crippling obstacles in his path -- poor management, subsequent poverty, substance abuse addictions and prostate cancer, to name a few -- Charles Kent Wilson rebounded personally and professionally. Faith in The Lord, joy in his heart and his unwavering belief in his own purpose is what In It….details, from his “take-em’-to-church” numbers (the conventional “Amazing God” and the sparkling “I’m Blessed,” featuring T.I.), to “c’mon-get-happy” grooves (“Smile For Me,” an unexpectedly nimble duet with Robin Thicke) and odes about “together forever,” starting with the harmony-filled “Chills.” 

The hand-clapping, rollicking, horn-injected “New Addition” is about love-fueled dopamine, not the bad stuff, and fans will certainly enjoy “Made For Love,” an overdue and sublime pairing of Uncle Charlie and the First Daughter of Soul, Lalah Hathaway: “My heart, was made to hold you close forever/ my arms won’t let you go, come what may/We, we were made just for us/cuz’ you and me, we were made for love.” 

Gap-Band-recalling up-tempos (“Dance Tonight”), rapper cameos (Wiz Khalifa, Pitbull, and Honorary Nephew Snoop Dogg), and inspirational bits of testimony in-between: if life were a religion, this In It to Win It chapter from The Book of Charlie is proof that faith and works, paired with God’s grace, will make beautiful music out of the madness of life. Highly Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 
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