TODAY

TODAY   |  September 09, 2013

Cee Lo Green: My mom urged me to change my life

Singer Cee Lo Green tells about his past struggles in a new memoir, “Everybody’s Brother,” and explains how his mother inpired him to change his life for the good. He also says music executive L.A. Reid has been a father figure to him.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> unforgettable songs like "forget you" and "crazy" have earned cee lo green grammy wins.

>> he and christina are about to be -- reunited and it feels so good

>> adam and blake as judges on nbc's top rated, we love to say that show, "the voice".

>> he's also the author of a book about his life called "everybody's brother" and he's with us his sisters today.

>> we brought your cat so you would feel --

>> i thought it was a dog.

>> they're cats.

>> sorry. you know you're the only one for me, babe.

>> perfect.

>> how did that come about --

>> what happened to the bird?

>> lady bird ? she's still around.

>> she is.

>> we want evidence.

>> how does it feel to be back on "the voice"? we missed you last season.

>> thank you. so many people have said that. i'm very happy about it. i love the show. i really do. i really enjoy it.

>> what did they say? they just needed you? got to have you back?

>> no. actually what happened was it was preplanned. this was the first preliminary, they wanted to work into it, swap out coaches.

>> mix it up.

>> and i also wanted to do something separate.

>> you wanted to tour.

>> i wanted to tour, do vegas for two months, planet hollywood .

>> time well spent.

>> definitely.

>> you know, you had, obviously, a long career before "the voice" and a lot of people are getting to know you from this show.

>> yeah.

>> one of the things i didn't know, i know you wrote a lot of songs, that pusscat doll song -- be. don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me

>> did you write that?

>> i did.

>> like a little cameo way at the end of the video. real quick.

>> but you are not an overnight success, are you?

>> i'm not.

>> you write candidly about your mom growing up and some of the struggles you had. tell us about them.

>> was any of it hard to share?

>> no. i'm very -- very open and honest and truly i mean maybe it wouldn't be worth a mention if it were not such a testimony, you know.

>> to the perseverance?

>> exactly.

>> endurance.

>> exactly. even at this very short, early stage of my life, i thought that it was probably a cool time to express some of it.

>> you went from being a tough guy, that's kind of an understatement.

>> you were stealing things from people.

>> you were naughty.

>> stealing jewelry.

>> yes.

>> that's how he got those teeth.

>> and then what turned the beat around for you?

>> i think it was definitely my mother, before she passed away , she was injured in an accident. she was deemed quad dra pa leakic and she was bedridden about three years before she ultimately passed due to the complications of it. i really felt very helpless and i did not want her life and death to be in vain and i knew she had had some very, you know, big hopes for me to be someone.

>> did she know you had the singing talent?

>> i remember my sister telling me. my sister became a registered nurse . my grandmother was also a nurse.

>> and your mom was a firefighter. first african-american firefighter female.

>> we took care of her at home. my sister told me once she wanted to kind of listen to the album, my first album, like 1995 , soul food , wanted to listen to it all the way through and my sister was getting married, pregnant with her first child, felt like her kids were going to be fine and i think she made peace with it.

>> wow. what was your big breakthrough moment when you became kind of mainstream?

>> was it l.a. reed.

>> he's been a mentor and something like a father to me, yes. when him and also kenneth baby face edmonds formed their label face and they set up shop in atlanta, georgia, that was a big break for our city.

>> sure. put you on the map.

>> we had a communal approach to doing music. we were all kind of a happy bunch of characters.

>> everybody showed up on each other's albums.

>> yeah. we all went to high school together, everything.

>> that's why you're everybody's brother.

>> that's right.

>> wish we had more time. we're glad you're back.

>> it's okay. it's okay.