Also Credited As:CeeLo Green, Cee-Lo, DeCarlos Calloway, Thomas Burton, Thomas DeCarlo Callaway
|Thomas DeCarlo Callaway on May 30, 1974 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA|
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He was born Thomas DeCarlo Callaway on May 30, 1974 in Atlanta, GA. Brought up by ordained minister parents, the future star began performing at his local church. Green's childhood was scarred by his father's death when he was two, followed by a car accident involving his mother, which left her paralyzed. At 18, Green formed the Atlanta-based hip-hop group, Goodie Mob, along with Big Gipp, T-Mo and Khujo. The group was part of a Southern rap collective called the Dungeon Family that included the breakout rap group OutKast. Goodie Mob received positive critical reviews for its debut album, Soul Food (1995), which many hip-hop experts recognized as pioneering the Southern rap or "Dirty South" genre. As Goodie Mob was just taking off, however, Green's mother passed away, just two years after her accident. Her death sent the rapper into depression and influenced much of his songwriting, including the tracks "Free" and "Guess Who" from Goodie Mob's debut release. Green left Goodie Mob shortly after the release of its third album, World Party (1999) to pursue a solo career. He signed with Arista Records, but was dropped by the label after his albums Cee Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections (2002) and Cee Lo Green Is the Soul Machine (2004) failed to generate sales.
In 2006, Green teamed up with Brian Joseph Burton (a.k.a. Danger Mouse) to form Gnarls Barkley. The duo first met in 1998 at a talent show in Atlanta, where Burton placed second and won a spot opening up for a Goodie Mob concert. After collaborating on each other's side projects for a few years, Green and Burton finally released Gnarls Barkley's debut album, St. Elsewhere (2006), which spawned the international hit "Crazy." The song was reportedly inspired by a conversation between Green and Burton about how people did not take an artist seriously unless they appear insane. Recorded in one take, "Crazy" made the Top 10 throughout Europe and Australia, and peaked at No. 2 in the U.S. The song earned Gnarls Barkley a Grammy Award in 2007 for Best Urban/Alternative Performance, as well as a Best Alternative Music Album trophy for St. Elsewhere. Rolling Stone placed "Crazy" at the top spot of its 50 Best Songs of the Decade in 2009 and named it as the 100th greatest song of all time. Gnarls Barkley released its sophomore album, The Odd Couple (2008), which did not quite live up to its predecessor but still yielded minor hits such as the bluesy "Going On" and the heartbreaking ballad "Who's Gonna Save My Soul." A well-rounded entertainer, Green also made minor acting appearances throughout his career, ranging from a rapper cameo in the superhero comedy "Mystery Men" (1999), to doing voiceovers for the animated series "Robot Chicken" (Adult Swim, 2005- ) and "The Boondocks" (Cartoon Network, 2005- ).
Four years after the runaway success of "Crazy," Green made a second attempt at a solo career. In August 2010, the artist released the single "F**k You!" on YouTube. The song immediately went viral, garnering over two million plays in less than a week, for its achingly blunt lyrics, doo-wop harmonies, and Green's matter-of-fact delivery. "F*** You!" was unlike anything on Top 40 radio when it was released - forthright yet funny, campy yet melodic. A radio-friendly version (titled "Forget You" or "FU") was released to radio and made available to download on iTunes a month later. The song reached an even bigger audience after Academy Award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, playing a sassy substitute teacher, performed "Forget You" on the hit Fox series, "Glee." Paltrow's cover hit No. 1 on iTunes following the episode's airing. One of the biggest singles of 2010, "F**k You!" was nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Short Form Music Video; it won in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance category at the 2011 Grammy Awards.
For his Grammy performance, Green donned a colorful, feather-flocked ensemble a la 1970s-era Elton John, while a band of Muppets accompanied him. Paltrow came out onstage midway through and performed the song with Green. His over-the-top Grammy appearance helped "F**k You!" climb all the way to the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also became the lead single off Green's album The Lady Killer (2010), which debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard albums chart. On the heels of the "F**k You!" single's success, Green landed a spot as a judge and mentor on the reality competition series "The Voice," alongside fellow singers Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. The show premiered on NBC in April 2011, based on the premise that relevant artists will discover the next great music star. That same year, Green generated some ill will at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, where he was booed for showing up late which led to him storming off the stage. Meanwhile, he released his first Christmas album, Cee Lo's Magic Moment (2012), which featured his take on such Yuletide classics as "White Christmas," "Run Rudolph Run" and "Silent Night." In early 2013, Green surprised many when it was announced that he would be taking a hiatus from "The Voice," joining fellow outgoing judge Christina Aguilera in order to focus more on his music career. Both were replaced for the fourth season with Usher and Shakira.