Cee Lo Green was born Thomas DeCarlo Callaway. He has gone through several name changes over the years, starting with the hyphenated Cee-lo and then adding the Green surname.
"Cee-lo" is actually a gambling game played with three six-sided dice.
When Cee Lo was 16-years-old his mother was paralyzed in a car accident. She was pulled to safety by local volunteer firefighters (she was also a volunteer firefighter herself). Green never forgot their actions and later teamed up with Duracell's Power Those Who Protect Us program for a special tribute to volunteer firefighters by turning his hit single "Forget You
" into "Thank You."
The then little known singer performed backing vocals R&B trio TLC's #1 single "Waterfalls
." Cee-Lo recalled to The Guardian
newspaper in 2008: "I was working at the same studio and of course I know the girls too, because we were on the same label, so they just asked me. I didn't realize at the time what a big song it was going to be."
Green's own recording career began in November 1995 when his Atlanta, Georgia-based rap collective Goodie Mob released their debut album, Soul Food. The album is recognized as a pioneering record for the then emerging Southern rap scene. Two hit singles were gleaned from it "Cell Therapy" (#39 on the Hot 100) and "Soul Food" (#64 on the Hot 100).
Around the time Green's career with Goodie Mob was taking off, his mother died from her injuries. He'd already lost his father at the age of two, so this left him an orphan. Green expressed his love for his mother in the song "Guess Who" from the Soul Food album.
Green and the rest of the Goodie Mob made cameo appearances in the 1999 movie Mystery Men, which starred Ben Stiller and William H. Macy. Green was credited as "Thomas Burton aka Cee lo."
Green first met when Danger Mouse the producer opened for OutKast and Goodie Mob at a University of Georgia concert in 1998. They later formed the duo Gnarls Barkley and released their debut album, St. Elsewhere, in 2006.
"Gnarls Barkley" is a parody of basketball star Charles Barkley. The name came up in a conversation between Danger Mouse and some of his pals when they were throwing out weird ideas for band names.
Gnarls Barkley's first single "Crazy
" was the best selling single of 2006 in the UK and was ranked by Rolling Stone
as the #1 song of the decade.
"Crazy" was snubbed for Record of the Year at the 2007 Grammy awards, losing out to the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready To Make Nice
." Green later admitted to being disappointed at the time. "I grew from it," he said. "It was a little unfortunate because I felt like we truly deserved that record of the year, but you know, it's cool."
Green was one of the coaches for contestants on seasons one through three on the singing TV show The Voice. He returned as a coach on the fifth season.