By Robert M. Marovich
Dana “Ms. D.” Lin informed the Journal of Gospel Music that Charles V. Hamilton, affectionately known as Uncle Chucc and best known for his collaborations with Snoop Dogg, passed away on Friday, January 27, 2023.
Uncle Chucc was born and raised in Los Angeles. By age five, he was already honing his musical skills and talents, thanks to his musically-inclined mother, Momma Joyce. She noticed that when she was cleaning and singing around the house, Chucc, or “Charlie” as she calls him, would follow right behind her, repeating the melody she sang. Knowing early on her son had a profound gift for music, she not only kept him in church, but also involved him in positive community-related events, where he learned to play organ, guitar, bass, and drums.
Momma Joyce said that the drum was the first musical instrument Chucc played. His impressive musical talents at a young age caught the attention of Ms. Wiggins, who introduced Chucc’s parents to Ms. Eubanks, music instructor at the Eubanks Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles. Chucc’s gift to play the guitar is a transfer from his father, John Hamilton, as he and Joyce once participated in musical bands. Chucc received his first guitar at age six from his godfather, Henry Delton Williams. He caught the Greyhound bus from Oakland to Los Angeles solely to present his godson with a gift that would impact his life for years to come.
Joyce added that, at age ten, when Chucc started playing piano at home, the song he played by ear was the classic Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” The song would become his theme, as his family, friends, and fans remember him today.
Uncle Chucc graduated from Crenshaw Senior High School and traveled internationally under the leadership of Dr. Iris Stevenson-McCullough, the renowned academic, public school teacher, and choir director. The 1993 comedy Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, is based loosely on Dr. Stevenson-McCullough’s time as Crenshaw High’s choir director. After high school, Uncle Chucc studied music at Los Angeles Southwest College.
Uncle Chucc’s feature vocals on Snoop Dogg’s 2009 “Neva Have 2 Worry” earned him recognition as a solo artist. On December 17, 2012, his solo album, Be Your Teddy Bear, came out on Snoop Dogg’s Doggy Style Records. Uncle Chucc’s voice was distinctive and appreciated by all who called on him to lay vocals on various tracks.
Also in 2012, Chucc founded the Zion Messengers, a spinoff of his uncle James Henry Spears’ group, the Amazing Zion Travelers. Prior to establishing his own gospel group, Uncle Chucc played for and sang with several quartets, such as the Pilgrim Strangers, Gospel Warriors, and the Terry Ensemble. He also worked with the Sons of Christ and the Clara Ward Singers at the Hollywood House of Blues and the Sylvia St. James Gospel Brunch Jubilee.
In May 2013, the Zion Messengers released its first album, No One But You. That same year, they earned second place in the Best New Quartet competition at the Exclesisa Annual Showcase Extravaganza.
The Zion Messengers were the only quartet group featured on Snoop Dogg’s first gospel album, Bible of Love, released in March 2018 by RCA Inspiration. The following month, the Zion Messengers made their debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live! The quartet has been featured on many other major media outlets, such as on The Tammy Mac Show (Fox Soul TV) and Taste of LA. Zion Messengers music has been programmed on Kirk Franklin’s Sirius XM Radio Show, The Kevin Nash Show – KJLH Los Angeles, The Gospel Quartet Paradise, and the Ms. D. Gospel Show – KXEG 1280AM & 96.1FM Phoenix, Arizona.
Uncle Chucc assisted Ms. Dana ‘Ms. D.” Lin, the Zion Messengers’ booking manager, in establishing the West Coast Wave Gospel Chat Line. The online talk platform brought together gospel artists, promoters, DJs, and radio hosts from around the world to talk about current events happening in the gospel industry.
According to Ms. D., Chucc and The Zion Messengers were working on a new gospel album that featured gospel greats such as Dray Tate, Roy Ladson, and Chubbs Morton. They were also preparing for a summer tour of the East Coast beginning in June 2023.
Chucc was a believer in Christ. He studied the word of God as part of the songwriting process. He provided a haven for musicians and singers in the comfort of his backyard and the garage of his home. He was a music producer with the Grammy Award-winning independent creative enclave of 1500 Or Nothin’. He was a funny, genuine, and kind-hearted spirit.
Uncle Chucc’s legacy will forever shine through the memories that remain in the hearts of his immediate family: Joyce a.k.a. Beverly/mother, John/father, two sons Charles Jr. and Chance, four sisters, two brothers, his nieces and nephews, the Zion Messengers and 1500 Or Nothin’ families, extended family in Arizona, and a host of family, friends, and fans around the world.