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RIP Gerald Levert

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  • Carl Z.
    Shocking news from the O Jays family. A TV report here says the autopsy found evidence of heart disease.
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 11, 2006
      Shocking news from the O'Jays family. A TV report here says the
      autopsy found evidence of heart disease.

      <http://www.cleveland.com/search/index.ssf?/base/entertainment/116323859942800.xml?emmus&coll=2>

      R&B star Levert dies at home in Geauga
      Saturday, November 11, 2006
      Margaret Bernstein and John Soeder
      Plain Dealer Reporters

      Gerald Levert, the son of Eddie Levert of the O'Jays who became a
      soulful R&B superstar in his own right, was found dead Friday morning
      at his home in Newbury Township. He was 40.

      "It seems like he died in his sleep, but we don't know yet," said
      family friend Malaika Malone.

      A cousin who found Levert was unable to wake him, Malone said.

      Levert was pronounced dead at University Hospitals Geauga Medical
      Center in Chardon, said hospital public-relations manager Dan Bomeli.

      The cause of death has not been determined.

      Eddie Levert is "devastated," said O'Jays co-founder Walter Williams.
      "He's a wreck, and rightfully so."

      In a statement, Levert's family said: "As everybody knows, Gerald was
      a man who loved and breathed music. To his family and friends he was a
      man of strong character, who had an infectious personality and a zest
      for life. For his fans, his greatest love was touching the hearts and
      souls of all people through his music. At this very difficult time, we
      thank you for your prayers and hope you will understand our need for
      privacy."

      Levert often performed with the O'Jays. They were supposed to share a
      bill on Thanksgiving in Marysville, Ind.

      Levert "was a go-getter," Williams said. "He didn't just come out and
      sing songs. He went after an audience."

      Levert, a 1984 graduate of Shaker Heights High School, got his start
      in the trio LeVert, best known for its 1987 Top 5 smash "Casanova."
      The group also included his younger brother, Sean, and their friend
      Marc Gordon.

      Gerald Levert launched a solo career in 1991. A fixture on
      Billboard's R&B charts, he also found success on the pop charts with
      such hits as "Taking Everything," "Thinkin' Bout It" and "Baby Hold on
      to Me." His major-label albums "Love & Consequences," "Groove On" and
      "Private Line" sold 1 million copies each, according to the Recording
      Industry Association of America.

      In 1988, Levert launched Trevel Productions, a Cleveland songwriting
      and music production firm whose clients included Anita Baker and Teddy
      Pendergrass, as well as the local acts Men at Large and the Rude Boys.

      Levert considered himself the heir apparent to the late Luther
      Vandross, a notion shared by fans everywhere but especially in his
      Cleveland hometown.

      All of Levert's CDs are strong sellers here, even his earliest work,
      said Sanders Henderson, owner of Nikki's Music in Cleveland's Buckeye
      neighborhood. "It's different from the music today - that stuff's just
      going to last for a minute. But Gerald's catalog constantly sells."

      His powerful voice and romantic ballads earned him a loyal fan base,
      said Henderson, who keeps a brown teddy bear in his office, a
      sought-after souvenir from a Levert concert. "This is his trademark,"
      said Sanders. "Women fight over them."

      As word of Levert's death spread, a wave of grief rolled over
      Cleveland. Disc jockeys at R&B station WZAK FM/93.1 played his hits
      nonstop and shared memories.

      "I think everybody in Cleveland felt like they knew him," said Terry
      Stewart, president and chief executive of the Rock and Roll Hall of
      Fame and Museum, who sat on the board of the Philadelphia-based Rhythm
      and Blues Foundation with Levert.

      Levert's music was in the tradition of the O'Jays, who were inducted
      into the Rock Hall in 2005, Stewart said.

      "He took it to the next generation," Stewart said.

      Levert collaborated with Eddie Levert on the 1995 album "Father &
      Son." They toured together, too, performing last month in South
      Africa.

      One of Levert's final recording projects was "My Angel," a ballad on
      pianist Jim Brickman's new CD, "Escape." "My love goes with you,
      wherever you are / And there may be distance, but we're never apart,"
      Levert crooned.

      They recorded the song this summer in Cleveland and performed it
      together last month at the House of Blues on Euclid Avenue.

      "I can't even listen to it now," Brickman said. "It's about kids, but
      it could be interpreted as being about loss."

      In 2004, Levert said: "People always ask in interviews, 'What do you
      want people to think about when you're gone?' I just want to leave a
      mark, to say I was bold enough to say what I felt."

      In addition to his father, Levert's survivors include his mother,
      Martha; brothers, Sean and Eddie Jr.; a sister, Kandice; and three
      children, a relative said. Funeral arrangements have not been made.
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