Thomas DeCarlo Callaway (born May 30, 1974), better known by his stage name Cee Lo Green, is an American singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer and actor. He originally came to prominence as a member of the southern hip hop group Goodie Mob, later launching a critically acclaimed solo career and forming Gnarls Barkley with DJ Danger Mouse.
Internationally, Cee Lo is best known for hip hop work and Gnarls Barkley's 2006 worldwide hit "Crazy", which reached Number One in various singles charts worldwide, including the UK. In the United States, "Crazy" reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100. Parent album "St. Elsewhere" was also a hit, reaching Number One on the UK Albums Chart and number four on the US Billboard 200 album charts. Gnarls Barkley's second album, "The Odd Couple" (2008), was less successful and missed the top ten in both the UK and US, where it charted at number 12 in the US and 18 in the UK.
In 2010, Cee Lo took a break from recording with Gnarls Barkley and released the single "Fuck You!" on August 19 as a solo recording artist. The song was an instant hit, reaching the top spot in the UK and the Netherlands and charted at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100. The parent album, "The Lady Killer" (2010) saw similar success, peaking within the top five of the UK Albums Chart and debuting within the top ten on the Billboard 200 album charts, and received a gold certification from the BPI in the UK shortly after its release. His second single "It's OK" was a hit in Europe and the third single, "Bright Lights Bigger City" has also seen similar charting success. Cee Lo is also currently a vocal coach on the NBC reality talent show The Voice with Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and Blake Shelton.
Cee Lo Green was born Thomas DeCarlo Callaway in Atlanta and graduated from Benjamin E. Mays High School in Southwest Atlanta. Both of his parents were ordained ministers and he started his music career in his church. His father died when he was two years old. His mother, Sheila J. Tyler-Callaway, was also a volunteer firefighter. She was involved in a car crash, leaving her paralyzed, and died two years after the accident. At the time, Cee Lo's career with Goodie Mob has just begun taking off. His mother's death led Cee Lo into depression, as is reflected in various songs throughout his career, including "Free" by Goodie Mob, songs on "St. Elsewhere" and on "The Odd Couple" ("She Knows", "A Little Better"). Cee Lo also expresses his love for his mother in the song "Guess Who" from Goodie Mob's "Soul Food" album. In an excerpt of "Cee Lo Distilled", a mini documentary produced by Absolut and The Fader released on YouTube, Cee Lo explained that his mother's death was a defining moment to "crossing that threshold over into a career".
Along with Big Gripp, T-Mo and Khujo, Cee Lo was an original member of the Atlanta hip hip group Goodie Mob. He is the youngest of the four. The Goodie Mob were a part of the Atlanta rap collective the Dungeon Family, which also included OutKast. The group released their debut album, "Soul Food" in 1995. The album received much critical praise as a pioneering record for the then emerging Southern rap scene. It featured a distinctive soulful southern sound by production team Organized Noize, who has also produced OutKast's debut "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik". Cee Lo got considerable praise for his rapping and singing of hooks, particularly on the hit singles "Cell Therapy" and "Soul Food".
The group's second album, "Still Standing" came out in 1998 and also received much critical praise. Its commercial performance was slightly lower than the group's previous effort however. At this time, Cee Lo focused primarily on rapping over singing. While he did frequently sing hooks and did some singing, at this point he was a rapper first and foremost. Cee Lo took more creative control on the group's next album, "World Party". Released in 1999, this album was more of a party record than the group's previous output, getting away somewhat from their socially conscious lyricism.
During the making of the album "World Party", Cee Lo left the group to pursue a solo career under Arista and the remaining member continued to perform together under the Goodie Mob name with Koch Records. They did however collaborate in combinations in the Dungeon Family album "Even in Darkness". Although the next Goodie Mob album seemed to mock Cee Lo with its title, "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show", the group expressed that it was more of a jab at Arista and the music industry as a whole.
The song "Hold On" from Big Boi of OutKast's "God Purp? Vol. 2" album was the first newly recorded Goodie Mob song with all four members since World Party. (Khujo later revealed to fans at an album signing for his new album "Mercury", that the song "Hold On" was originally recorded in 1995 before "Soul Food" was released.)
In 1999, Cee Lo, credited as "Cee-Lo" was one of ten famous great musicians who contributed to the Santana album "Supernatural". Lauryn Hill wrote "Do You Like The Way," and the two of them trade off on lead vocals.
Cee Lo's Arista career was short lived, as he was dropped after only two albums due to low record sales. His first album, Cee Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, was heavily in the vein of various other Dungeon Family releases, with southern soul/funk/jazz backings produced solely by himself and boasting appearances by fellow Dungeon Fam member Big Gripp and Backbone. The album explored his departure from Goodie Mob and his solo growth in the song "El Dorado Sunrise (Super Chicken)", as well as socio-political issues, and showcased his singing. The album did not sell very well, but Cee Lo achieved some airplay with the single "Closet Freak".
His second Arista album, "Cee Lo Green... Is the Soul Machine" brought a more branched out sound and more deeply explored southern rap music. This is evidenced by collaborations with Ludacris, T.I., and Pharrell Williams, as well as production from Timbaland, The Neptunes and Jazze Pha, among others. The only other Dungeon Family member that appeared on his second release was Big Rube. This album saw Cee Lo delve into other styles besides traditional rap. Timbaland proved to be Cee Lo's single producer as their song "I'll Be Around" received mild airplay. They performed the single on an episode in the second season of "Chappelle's Show". "The One" featuring Jazze Pha and T.I. was also released as a single. On the heels of the success of Gnarls Barkley, Arista released a 17 track greatest hits collection of Cee Lo songs, "Closet Freak: The Best of Cee Lo Green the Soul Machine. It features predominantly Cee Lo solo tracks and several Goodie Mob songs. His new song "What Part of Forever" has been included in "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Original Motion Picture Soundtrack".
After his second solo album, Cee Lo joined the group Gnarls Barkley with Danger Mouse, temporarily putting his solo career on hold. He would release two albums with that group, before again releasing solo material in 2010.
On August 14, 2010, Cee Lo released the single "Fuck You!" to YouTube ahead of his planned solo album release, due to its partial leak on April 13. "Fuck You!" was an instant viral smash hit, registering over two million plays in less than a week. Two weeks later on September 1, Cee Lo released to YouTube an official music video of the song. "Fuck You!" made a debut at No. 1 on the UK charts, notably beating out "Shame" from the recently reunited Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow. On December 1, 2010, Cee Lo received five Grammy nominations for "Fuck You!", which has been certified gold in the United States and Denmark. The single achieved platinum status in Canada, New Zealand and the UK; and multi-platinum status in Australia.
When discussing his most recent album, "The Lady Killer" (released on November 9, 2010) by Elektra Records and Roadrunner Records), Cee Lo said: "I suppose this is a more clear, concise, consistent, conceptual, entire album. It's a complete thought, because it's written to be like a score. The album's meant to be a motion picture, you know? I've never taken that approach to doing an album before." The album was certified gold in the UK on December 6, 2010.
Green is touring with an all-female backing band named "Scarlet Fever" (made up of Sharon Aguilar, Brittany Brooks, Theresa Flaminio and Regina Zernay Roberts), performing for Taratata, the BBC, Late Show with David Letterman, W's Symmetry Live Concert Series, Saturday Night Live, the Jimmy Kimmel Live! special show following the Academy Awards, and many other venues. Green also performed "Forget You" a sanitized version of his hit "Fuck You!" with Gwyneth Paltrow and several puppets provided by The Jim Henson Company at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards on February 13, 2011, a shoutout to Elton John, who wore a very similar costume in a Mupper show performance in 1977. At the 2011 BRIT Awards two days later, he was joined by British vocalist Joelle Bennett in another duet of "Fuck You!". Shortly thereafter, it was announced that Green will be joining Rihanna and J. Cole on the North American left of RihannaLoud Tour in the summer of 2011. However, he later dropped out of the tour citing that his busy work schedule which includes his commitment to judging "The Voice", writing a new book and recording a new album as the reason for his withdrawal. On August 14, 2011, Green performed at WWE SummerSlam performing "Forget You" and the event's theme, "Bright Lights, Bigger City".
Cee Lo released his debut album "The Lady Killer" as a Platinum Edition on November 28, 2011. The repackaged album contained the original 16 tracks (including remixed versions of "Bright Lights, Bigger City" (feat. Wiz Khalifa) and "I Want You (Hold On To Love)" plus one extra track, written by Bruno Mars, "Anyway". The new track, "Anyway", served as the album's sixth overall single and first Platinum Edition single.
Cee Lo is collaborating with producer Jazze Pha to release an album called "Happy Hour" on Jazze's record label. The songs "Happy Hour" (as well as the remix with Bun B, Snoop Dogg & Tone Tone), "Man of the Hour" and "Disco Bitch" (featuring The Pussycat Dolls) from the album have already been released as singles and B-sides. Jazze Pha has produced numerous hit singles with many artists, but this project is his rapping and singing debut. Cee Lo is co-producing the album with him, so both artist and producer share equal roles in vocals and production. Also, Melody Thornton confirmed that she is currently in the studio with Cee Lo working on her solo album. In 2010, he recorded a song for the "Sex and the City 2 Soundtrack" which reached number 9 in the charts and was written by him and produced by T-Pain which is called "Language of Love". He along with The Red Hot Chili Peppers and OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder were rumoured to be appearing on British DJ Paul Oakenfold's upcoming album. Also, Cee Lo has recorded a song with Alien Ant Farm that is expected to be released on their upcoming 2012 album. Green will voice Murray the Mummy in the upcoming film, "Hotel Transylvania".
In March 2012 Green performed as a fundraiser for President Barack Obama with the president present. He began singing "Fuck You!" with the original profane lyrics, but then switched to the non-profane lyrics, apparently unaware that the profane lyrics were inappropriate at a presidential fundraiser.
Television and Film CareerEdit
Cee Lo, along with the rest of the Goodie Mob, had a cameo in the 1999 film "Mystery Men" as a member of the Not So Goodie Mob, in which he was credited as "Thomas Burton aka Cee Lo". He also has done voice acting work, voicing Prime Cut Miggity-Mo' Macdaddy Gizzabang Doggy Dog Dog on the Brak Show episode "Brakstreet" in 2002, Frank and Buddy Z Class of 3000's Christmas special and as Godzilla in the Robot Shick episode "Squaw Bury Shortcake" in 2007, and Rev. Rollo Goodlove in the Boondocks episode "The S-Word" and "The Hunger Strike" in 2008. In 2010, he appeared in T-Pain's Freaknik: The Musical as Light Skin.
On January 15, 2011, Cee Lo both acted and performed on NBC's Saturday Night Live hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow, who, in November 2010, covered his song "Forget You" on an episode of Glee.
Cee Lo is currently one of the coaches for contestants on the singing TV show The Voice. He also made a guest star appearance in the episode "Tales From the Luncheonette" of Parenthood season 3.
On August 14, 2011, Cee Lo appeared at WWE SummerSlam and performed both "Bright Lights, Bigger City", the official theme song for the event, and his hit "Forget You".
On September 25, 2011, Cee Lo appeared as himself in a live action/voice appearance and as the voice of a hot tub in the "American Dad!" episode "Hot Water".
On February 5, 2012 Cee Lo appeared in the Super Bowl halftime show with Madonna.
On March 31, 2012, Cee Lo Green appeared in the 2012 Kids' Choice Awards. Near the end of the show, he was revealed to be the evil mastermind that was trying to ruin the show, and the only reason he was evil was because he wanted to get slimed. However, the show's host, Will Smith, refused to slime him, and he "ice cream sundaed" him instead, claiming it was the "second best thing" compared to sliming.
Cee Lo has described himself as having been a "goon" in his youth. At age 16 years old, Cee Lo's mother was pulled to safety from an almost fatal car accident by local volunteer firefighters. His mother also served as a volunteer firefighter herself, and these two things inspired Cee Lo's 2011 song "Thank You" (a reworking of "Forget You"), which pays tribute to firefighters.
Cee Lo was married to Christina Johnson until they divorced in 2005. Together they have a son Kingston; and Cee Lo was a stepfather to Christina's daughters, Sierra and Kaalah. Sierra appeared on the MTV show "My Super Sweet 16".
At the April 2011 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Cee Lo was booed by fans after he showed up late, drew fan disapproval, had his set cut off, and then stormed off stage. Cee Lo had arrived 25 minutes late, for which he apologized to disgruntled fans at the top of his set, saying "Sorry guys, I just landed. Y'all still gonna party with me? I only have 20 minutes. It ain't my fauly. They should have... given me a better time slot." Things then took a turn for the worse, and after performing five songs, including "Fuck You!" and a cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" Green's set was cut. He then stormed off stage.
On June 16, 2011, journalist Andrea Swensson of City Pages negatively reviewed one of Green's performances, writing that it "failed to measure up to the fun factor of his recorded material. Green spent most of the set stationed in front of a microphone at the center of the stage, barely moving an inch while he sang and flanked by two forgettable back up singers and a DJ that was all but hidden behind a giant LCD display". In response, the following day Green tweeted "I respect your criticism but be fair! People enjoyed last night! I'm guessing ur gay? And my masculinity offended u? well fuck U!". Green promptly received angered responses from some of his followers on Twitter, to which he replied "Apologies gay community! what was homophobic about that?" In a subsequent interview with magazine Us Weekly, Green stated that his comments were in good fun, adding that "I am not harbouring any sort of negative feeling toward the gay community" and that "I am one of the most liberal artists that I think you will ever meet, and I pride myself on that". Green has since deleted the tweets pertaining to this review.
On December 31, 2011, at Times Square in New York City, Green sang John Lennon's "Imagine" just prior to the ball dropping to ring in the new year. In his rendition, Green replaced the line "and no religion, too" with the words "all all religion is true". Many saw this as a substantial revision of the meaning behind Lennon's original lyrics. Green also sand the words "imagine no possessions" while wearing a full length fur coat and large gold watch. Shortly after the performance, Green responded via Twitter: "Yo I meant no disrespect by changing the lyric guys! I was trying to say a world where u could believe what u wanted that's all" Green deleted a series of tweets pertaining to this event shortly thereafter.
|2003||Dirty South Classics||
|2008||The Odd Couple||
Cee Lo GreenEdit
|2002||Cee Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections||
|2004||Cee Lo Green... Is the Soul Machine||
|2006||Closet Freak: The Best of Cee Lo Green the Soul Machine||
|2010||The Lady Killer||
Awards and NominationsEdit
|2011||Himself||Best Male R&B Artist||Won|
Billboard Music AwardsEdit
|2010||Himself||Viral Innovator of the Year||Won|
|2011||The Lady Killer||Best International Album||Nominated|
|2011||Himself||Best International Male||Won|
|2007||Crazy||Record of the Year||Nominated|
|2007||Crazy||Best Urban/Alternative Performance||Won|
|2007||St. Elsewhere||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|2007||St. Elsewhere||Best Alternative Music Album||Won|
|2009||Going On||Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals||Nominated|
|2009||The Odd Couple||Best Alternative Music Album||Nominated|
|2011||Fuck You!||Record of the Year||Nominated|
|2011||Fuck You!||Song of the Year||Nominated|
|2011||Fuck You!||Best Urban/Alternative Performance||Won|
|2011||Fuck You!||Best Short Form Music Video||Nominated|
|2012||Fool For You||Best Traditional R&B Performance||Won|
|2012||Fool For You||Best R&B Song||Won|
|2012||The Lady Killer||Best Pop Vocal Album||Nominated|
Soul Train Music AwardsEdit
|2011||Himself||Best Male/R&B Artist||Won|