(Updated Nov. 17, 2006) A special musical tribute was held on Friday afternoon in Gerald Levert’s hometown of Cleveland at the Cleveland Convention Center to allow his many fans, as well as family and musical guests, to say goodbye to the singer, who died last Friday of a heart attack at his home.
Levert, 40, who was known for smooth voice and powerful romantic ballads, was the son of famed O’Jay’s singer Eddie Levert. He enjoyed a two-decade career that included numerous No. 1 hits as both a solo artist and as a member of the `80s group, LeVert. The trio which included his brother Sean and family friend Marc Gordon, found fame with a string of memorable hits, including “Cassanova,” “(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind,” “Baby, I’m Ready” and “Just Coolin.”
In 1991, Levert dropped his first solo album, Private Line, which contained the No. 1 R&B hit single, “Baby Hold On to Me,” and made a name for himself among other great balladeers, such as Teddy Pendergrass and Freddie Jackson.
He later formed a musical alliance with singers Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill in 1996 to form LSG, which spawned the hit song, “My Body.” More than a singer, her produced works for some of the biggest names in the music industry, including the O’Jays, Barry White, Teddy Pendergrass, Patti LaBelle, Stephanie Mills and The Winans.
Levert’s label, Atlantic Records, confirmed that he died of a heart attack at his home in Cleveland, Ohio, according to news reports.
“All of us at Atlantic are shocked and deeply saddened by his untimely death. He was one of the greatest voices of our time, who sang with unmatched soulfulness and power, as well as a tremendously gifted composer and an accomplished producer,” the statement read.
“Above all, he was an exceptional human being whose warmth and grace inspired us all. Gerald has been a member of our family for two decades, both with the group LeVert and as a solo artist, and he will be greatly missed by everyone who had the pleasure and privilege of working with him through the years. This is a tremendous loss for the music community and for his millions of fans.”
In lieu of flowers, the Levert family is requesting that donations be made to the R&B Foundation, with checks written in the name of the R&B Foundation and sent to Andy Gibson c/o Trevel Productions, Inc., 13816 Cedar Road, University Heights, OH 44118.
Watch a special performance by Gerald Levert at the 2002 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.
Photo Credit: Atlantic Records Publicity