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Cee Lo Green: Bio of the Singer and Actor

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Born May 30th, 1974 in Atlanta, Georgia, Cee Lo Green overcame the loss of his parents at a young age to become one of music's most successful artists. After some time with rap group Goodie Mob, he released two mostly ignored solo albums. He was catapulted to fame after he and DJ Danger Mouse hit it big with their duo, Gnarls Barkley and the song, "Crazy." Musical success followed him after he went out on his own again thanks to the song "Forget You!" off 'The Lady Killer' album and he also branched out in film and reality TV. In this video, takes a look at the life and career of Cee Lo Green.

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He thinks you’re crazy, just like him. Welcome to, and today we're taking a look at the life and career of Cee Lo Green.

Growing Up

Thomas DeCarlo Callaway was born May 30th, 1974 in Atlanta, Georgia. He was inspired early by his parents, who were both ordained ministers. Unfortunately, his father died when he was two, and tragedy struck again when his mother was paralyzed in a car crash during his teen years. Her subsequent death greatly affected him and pushed him to pursue music.

Goodie Mob

Taking on the alias Cee Lo Green, he joined Atlanta rap group Goodie Mob alongside T-Mo, Khujo and Big Gipp. In 1994, Goodie Mob was featured on fellow Atlanta rap group Outkast’s debut album. Both groups were also part of a larger collective of rappers named the Dungeon Family during this time.

Goodie Mob’s Debut

A year later, Goodie Mob released their debut Soul Food. Much of the effort’s critical praise was directed towards Green’s ability to both sing and rap. The southern rap album was eventually certified gold on the strength of several singles, like "Soul Food" and “Cell Therapy.”

Over the course of the next few years, Green appeared on two more Goodie Mob albums: the gold certified and critically acclaimed Still Standing, and the less well-received and poor selling World Party.

Solo Career

During the production of World Party, Green left the group to pursue a solo career. He released two albums with Arista Records before he was unceremoniously let go. Though both 2002’s Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections and 2004’s Cee-Lo Green...Is the Soul Machine reached the second spot of the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, but they barely made a dent in terms of sales and were therefore considered commercial disappointments.

Gnarls Barkley

Putting these less-than-stellar albums behind him, Green joined forces with DJ Danger Mouse to form Gnarls Barkley. The duo’s first album, St. Elsewhere was released in 2006. The soul, alternative rock and hip hop disc debuted at number one on the UK charts and eventually peaked within the U.S. Billboard 200’s top five. It contained the smash hit, “Crazy,” which became the first single to hit number one in the UK thanks to digital sales. It later won a Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.

Gnarls Barkley’s Sophomore Effort

After riding the wave of success of that platinum-certified album, Gnarls Barkley dropped their follow-up, The Odd Couple, in 2008. Though its various singles were well-received by fans and critics, the record itself was only a moderate success in comparison with the duo’s first effort: it charted within the top twenty in both the U.S. and the UK.

Return to Solo Career

Green then decided once again to venture out on his own. Following the internet leak and viral success of the song "Fuck You!," also known as “Forget You,” he officially released the single online in mid-2010. It was a smash and went on to top UK charts, hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100, earn a Grammy nomination and sell over 5 million digital copies in the U.S.

“Forget You!”

Green released his third studio album, The Lady Killer, that same year. The top ten effort mixed soul, pop and funk and was nominated for a Grammy based on its production and Green’s vocals. Besides “Fuck You!” other notable singles included the Grammy-winning “Fool for You” and the synthpop “Bright Lights Bigger City.”

Other Projects

Green spent the next few years working on various projects and with different artists. This included a contribution to the “Sex and the City 2” movie soundtrack and several live television performances.

Acting and “The Voice”

Outside music, Green spent time acting and developing a family sitcom. In 2011, he became a coach and vocal mentor on the reality talent show “The Voice,” and lent his voice to the computer-animated film “Hotel Transylvania” the following year.

Holiday Album

While working on his next studio effort, Green released the holiday record, Cee-Lo’s Magic Moment, in 2012.


From music producer to music mentor, Cee Lo Green is a man of many talents, and his 20-plus years of experience in the industry shine through on every project he touches. He is a musical innovator whose songs everyone can enjoy, and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. And if you don't like that, well "Forget You!"

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