Charlie recalls hearing music in Vietnam by bands touring to entertain the troops. There the impression of how music can make people feel was imprinted. Going from not being allowed to speak or make a sound on mission with the 101st airborne to hearing a Sonny Boy Williamson tune congealed Charlie’s career of speaking with the harmonica.
Such is the background that landed Charlie back to Roxbury, Mass where he taught himself the harmonica. Massachusetts is the state where he was born in 1948. Son of a trumpet player, he spent his childhood in foster homes. In 1971, while playing the streets for money in Atlanta Georgia, a musician friend made the mistake of saying Charlie couldn’t write a song. “I Like, What I Like” was composed 30 minutes later and is still part of Charlie’s repertoire. In New York, the curator for American art, music, and folk culture at the Smithsonian, Ralph Rinzler, heard Charlie playing on a street corner and set him up playing the harmonica with Pete Seeger. Charlie went on to play with the likes of Bill Monroe and Bobby Parker and audiences all over the United States and internationally have enjoyed his vocals and speaking harp, including President Jimmy Carter and audiences at Carnegie Hall. His first album was in 1976 on the Dusty Road Label. He has several releases on JSP Records. Preferring to keep his street playing current, Charlie likens more formal concerts to putting on armor and going to war again. Charlie has been sponsored by the National Endownment for the Arts to teach harmonica to inmates in Washington DC.
Consciously or subconsciously, shunning the big name career track seems to keep him close to the roots of his inspiration to write and perform while staying an original. Charlie has also received his share of betrayal in the business but seems to keep on keeping on.
SOURCE: Original Bio