R&B Crooner Gerald Levert Dies at 40
By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY
AP Music Writer
NEW YORK — Gerald Levert, the fiery singer of passionate R&B love songs and the son of O'Jays singer Eddie Levert, died Friday. He was 40.
His label, Atlantic Records, confirmed that Levert died at his home in Cleveland, Ohio.
Dan Bomeli, public relations manager at University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center in suburban Cleveland, said Levert had been brought to the hospital. Bomeli said Levert had died but he had no further details.
Levert's family released a statement asking for privacy.
"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," the statement read.
Patti LaBelle, who had worked and recorded with Levert, said he "was like a son" to her. "He was such a great entertainer. It's not for real to me that he is gone ... Nobody was prepared for this."
LaBelle added that she hopes to sing at Levert's funeral.
"It's very sad. He was an amazing talent, obviously," friend and fellow R&B singer Will Downing said. "Gerald was a hard worker. He would go out there and do his thing, and be in places where the folks were. He would touch the people, and that's really what it's all about."
Over his two-decade music career, Levert sold millions of albums and had numerous R&B hits.
Levert first gained fame in 1986 as a member of the R&B trio LeVert, which also included his brother, Sean, and childhood friend Marc Gordon. They quickly racked up hits like "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind," "Casanova," and "Baby I'm Ready."
But Gerald Levert's voice — powerful and soulful, almost a carbon copy of his father's — was always the focal point, and in 1991, he made his solo debut with the album "Private Line," which included a hit duet with his dad, "Baby Hold on to Me." His father also recorded the successful album "Father & Son."
Levert was known for his sensual, romantic songs, but unlike Luther Vandross, whose voice and songs were more genteel, Levert's music was explosive and raw — his 2002 album was titled "The G Spot."
"When we would do shows together, we would get on stage and battle for the hearts of women. Every night, that was our thing," Downing said.
Though Levert was successful as a solo singer, in 1997 he got into group mode again — joining with R&B singers Johnny Gill and Keith Sweat for the supergroup of LSG. The self-titled album sold more than two million copies, and their hits included the sensual "My Body." Levert also worked with other artists as a songwriter and producer.