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In Memoriam: Gerald Levert (1966 - 2006)
(Posted November 12, 2006)

A brief moment for singer Gerald Levert, who died of a heart attack on 11-10-06 at the age of 40.  Fans of what is known as "grown and sexy" r&b should no doubt hold Levert dear in their hearts, for his ballads and midtempo humpers were precursors of the style. 

The son of Eddie Levert, lead singer of the legendary O'Jays, Gerald had major shoes to fill in attempting a career in music.  He frequently traveled with his father during their heyday, and Gerald formed the self-titled group with brother Sean and friend Marc Gordon in 1984.   

An independently released album, I Get Hot, introduced them to the market and Gerald's impassioned vocals in particular.  It was enough to get major labels interested, and Atlantic signed them in 1986.  Immediate national success was quick to follow, with their debut single "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind" topping the charts at #1, and "Let's Go Out Tonight" also cracking the top 20.  The album Bloodline went gold. 

The pop audience began to recognize them when "Cassanova," from The Big Throwdown, crossed over.  In addition, the Eddie Murphy blockbuster Coming to America had their "Addicted to You," on its soundtrack.   Levert would only get bigger, and Gerald's first solo recording was a 1988 single with Miki Howard, "That's What Love Is." 

His formal solo career began in 1991 with Private Line, which boasted smashes in the title cut and "Baby Hold On To Me," where he sang with his father.  In the years since, he had written and performed dozens of r&b hits, including his version of "Wind Beneath My Wings," "Practice What You Preach" for Barry White, and Men At Large's "So Gone." He was a founding member of the group LSG, whose two albums are classic for sultry r&b aficionados. 

More recently, he had taken up acting and expanding the thematic nature of his work.  His last release, Do I Speak For The World, mentioned the war in Iraq and 9-11, and included excerpts from Tavis Smiley and Cornel West.  Knowing he was continuing to evolve as an artist makes his loss that much more devastating. 

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