THE REV CEE LO GREEN; R&B Singer Says, despite the Rude Words, He Is Ministering to the People through Music

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), October 8, 2010 | Go to article overview

THE REV CEE LO GREEN; R&B Singer Says, despite the Rude Words, He Is Ministering to the People through Music


Byline: John Dingwall

CEE LO GREEN feared a 20-year stretch in prison would put paid to his dreams of becoming a music star.

The 35-year-old singer - one half of Gnarls Barkley - is set to top the charts on Sunday with his brilliant solo single, F*** You.

But his first job was helping out local gangs as hired muscle in his hometown Atlanta, Georgia.

Cee Lo - born Thomas Callaway to parents who were both ordained ministers - says he only gave up thieving because he feared he would let down his mother.

He admitted: "I did hang out with bad guys.

"I believe the crew I was with were good at being bad. I guess it led me to believe you had to be willing at all times to accept the risks.

"I could have hurt my mother if I had been sent away for 20 years for some crime I committed.

"It would have killed her, I'd have killed her, figuratively speaking. Her life and whole goal of being a success as a person would have been taken from her and I would have ruined my life too.

"I would have been a grand disappointment. I was a young teenager. As I matured, I realised that if I can be conscious of a risk factor and competent enough to take a calculated risk, why wouldn't I be mindful enough to minimise those risks altogether by doing something constructive and totally separate."

Having lost his father when he was just two, tragedy struck when his mother, Sheila J. Tyler-Callaway, became a quadriplegic as a result of a car crash. Cee Lo was just 16.

She died two years later, plunging Cee Lo into a black depression that he still battles on a daily basis.

He said: "The depression is definitely not as bad as it used to be. I'm a Gemini if that explains anything, if you know anything about that zodiac in particular. It is the extremes, polar opposites.

"I can be peak and valley quite casually throughout the day.

"It is nobody's fault. I believe the general plight of all existence is to master oneself one day at a time. I am up for the challenge.

"And I smile quite a lot through all of that diversity.

"I'm not so preoccupied with any of that. It is the human experience.

"I am here to serve the greater good, not only for myself but for my fellow man through the joy of music."

In 1995, he joined the Atlanta hip-hop act Goodie Mob and channelled his energies into his music.

He also released two solo albums which bombed, leading to him being dropped by his label.

Collaborations with the likes of Outkast, Gorillaz, Diddy, Kelis and Black Eyed Peas followed, as well as writing the hit song Don't Cha for Pussycat Dolls.

But it wasn't until Gnarls Barkley topped the charts with Crazy in 2006 and albums St. Elsewhere and The Odd Couple that fame arrived after years of struggling to be accepted.

"It's definitely a blessing," he said. "It's been a lot of hard work but better late than never. Success gives you an awful lot of spotlight and solitude at the same time.

"That may be a reason why a bittersweet song is shared amongst many as opposed to people being happy at the same time. I believe that pain is the common denominator that connects us all. …

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