Born & Raised:
Real name: Thomas DeCarlo Callaway.
Born: May 30, 1974 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Raised in Georgia.
Thomas Callaway, who would later grow up to become known as Cee-Lo Green, was born and raised in the Atlanta, Georgia area. His parents were both ordained ministers and his mother, Sheila, was also a volunteer firefighter. His father died when Cee-Lo was only 2 years old. He attended school in southwest Atlanta, but was a self-described "goon" and "kleptomaniac," and wound up being kicked out of the school system and enrolled in a military academy for a year. When he was 18, his mother was involved in a car accident which left her paralyzed. She died two years after the crash, when he was 18.
Cee-Lo formed a hip-hop group called the Goodie Mob with three friends in 1991. The Goodie Mob's debut album, Soul Food, was released in 1995, and went on to sell over half a million copies. Due to his uniquely-pitched voice and ability to both rap and sing, Cee-Lo stood out among the group's members. He stayed with the Goodie Mob for two more albums, 1998's Still Standing and 1999's World Party before leaving for a solo career. Goodie Mob went on to release an album without Cee-Lo titled One Monkey Don't Stop No Show, which some people interpreted as a Cee-Lo diss, although the remaining group members denied it.
After signing a solo deal with Arista Records, he released his solo debut album, Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections, in 2002. The album, which was like a audio smorgasbord of Funk, Soul, Hip-Hop, R&B and other sounds, was critically acclaimed but sold poorly. He returned with another, more soulful solo project, Cee-Lo Green is ... the Soul Machine, in 2004, but it also sold poorly and Cee-Lo was eventually dropped from the Arista roster. However, after the success of Gnarls Barkley, Arista released a third album, Closet Freak: The Best of Cee Lo Green the Soul Machine, in 2006.
After being dropped from Arista, Cee-Lo collaborated with various artists throughout 2005, most notably the producer known as Danger Mouse. Eventually the two formed a group called Gnarls Barkley and after landing a record deal with Atlantic Records, released their eclectic debut, St. Elsewhere, in the spring 2006. The breakout hit single, "Crazy," eventually helped the album achieve critical acclaim and commercial success. To date, it has sold over 3 million copies in the U.S. and six million worldwide. The group's 2008 follow-up, The Odd Couple, has sold about half a million copies in the U.S.
After the two Gnarls Barkley albums, Cee-Lo went back to his solo career, but this time with better results. His 2010 Elektra Records album, The Lady Killer, is best known for its profane first single, "F_ck You!," which was co-written by Bruno Mars and almost instantly became a viral hit. The album debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard chart and to date has sold almost half a million copies.
Meaning of the Name:
When he was growing up, he was known by his middle name, DeCarlo, or Carlo for short. His friends started calling him Cee-Lo and the Brown name was added after singer-producer Patrick "Sleepy" Brown after saying that Cee-Lo sounded "like a stepson" of legendary Soul singer Al Green.
2010: The Lady Killer
2008: The Odd Couple (Gnarls Barkley)
2006: St. Elsewhere (Gnarls Barkley)
2004: Cee-Lo Green is ... the Soul Machine
2002: Cee-Lo Green and His Perfect Imperfections
1999: World Party (Goodie Mob)
1998: Still Standing (Goodie Mob)
1995: Soul Food (Goodie Mob)