Charlie Wilson: Hitmaker, Mentor and Author<br />

Charlie Wilson

Legendary singer, Charlie Wilson is on top both within his professional and personal life. Just this year he has already received a #1 R&B album with the release of Love, Charlie, a Living Legend Award by the Trumpet Awards and is performing at various cities including New York at Madison Square Garden with Tyrese on Saturday, February 23.

When he isn’t making listeners swoon and groove in concert, Wilson is mentoring celebrities including frequent collaborator, Snoop Lion aka Snoop Dogg. Wilson considers it his way of helping others avoid the pitfalls he has made with substance abuse, finances and stardom. “Snoop Dogg was the first one that allowed me into his personal life. He would ask me what should he do and I was there for him,” he says. “I told him to stop smoking weed and he stopped for almost two years. So there is a lot of peer pressure these young people have and they ask me what to do in those times.”

Wilson plans to share his wisdom with others through a memoir that he is currently finalizing. “It has my whole life in there and it’s juicy. People know I had drugs and alcohol problems but they don’t know how it all began and how I ended up homeless. So that story will be in there.”

R&B singers, Alyson Williams, Meli’sa Morgan and Cheryl Pepsii Riley also have a story worth telling and they recently teamed up to perform at Harlem’s Bleu Violin as part of Divapalooza. The live concert series, conceived and produced by Williams, features some of the best R&B divas of the 1980s and 1990s. Highlights from this installment included Williams’ jazz inspired take on the “Meet The Flintstones” theme song, Morgan’s rousing party-starter “Fool’s Paradise,” and Riley’s heartfelt cover of Joan Osborne’s “What if God Was One Of Us.” After her set, Riley noted that she is doing her part to nurture today’s talent through her weekly series, Black Velvet Mondays at the Village Underground. “This is something I wanted to start to pay it forward,” she says. “When we came up there used to be a band rehearsing on every block in Brooklyn, but now the babies don’t really have that outlet. This is a place where musicians and singers can figure out who they are.”

No matter who you are chances are that you enjoy music, food, fashion and networking. These are the ingredients that have made the, “Everyday People Brunch Party” one of the most popular series of its kind in New York City. The invitation-only events are presented by Bravo TV’s Chef Roblé & Co., Roble Ali and co-host Saada. This past Saturday they hosted a New York Fashion Week Edition which featured an eclectic mix of stylish creative professionals and music provided by DJ Moma. Of course it wouldn’t be a successful brunch without Roble’s delicious food which included smothered chicken and biscuits, tempura shrimp and grits and French toast cubes battered in crunched up Frosted Flakes. For Roble the brunch is a way to appeal to a wide market of rising multicultural professionals during a time of economic challenges. “There are lots of brunch parties but most of the brunches are $500 minimums with champagne and none of us are balling like that yet ‘cause we’re still trying to make it.”

Roble is focused on extending the brunch series brand as he continues to attract loyal followers and celebrities (Solange, Estelle). Recently he launched his T-shirt collection, Food Porn which is nearly sold out and hopes to produce more themed events centered on music, art and nightlife. If he needs a captivating performer, well there’s always Wilson.

Honorable Mentions: Talented singer-songwriter and actress, The Dan performs live on February 22nd here. Visual artist, Beata Drozd’s latest exhibition, Chocolate Pandemonium is on display for one final week at Andre Zarre Gallery. The collection features vibrant pop art inspired by Aaliyah, Swizz Beatz and Andre Leon Talley using a paintless collage technique. The Museum of Biblical Art presents, Ashe to Amen: African Americans and Biblical Imagery. The traveling exhibition features artists such as LeRone Wilson and Xenobia Bailey investigating the influence of this sacred text in African-American art.   

The Harlem Arts Alliance is a not for profit arts service organization celebrating 10 years of service to a prestigious list of members such as the Apollo Theater, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Columbia University, Harlem Stage (Aaron Davis Hall) and over 850 more cultural/arts institutions and individuals. The weekly column, Harlem Arts Alliance Presents: On the “A” w/Souleo, covers the intersection of the arts, culture and entertainment scene in Harlem and beyond and is written by Souleo, founder and president of event/media content production company, Souleo Enterprises, LLC.