Saturday, April 07, 2012

What Happened? Gerald Levert

Gerald Levert

Gerald Levert was born to The O'Jays front man Eddie Levert and his wife Marth in Canton, Ohio on July 13, 1966. Levert grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and due to his father's career, Levert would travel with the band regularly. While in high school, Levert's inclination towards music became apparent when he formed the R&B trio LeVert, with his younger brother Sean Levert and friend Marc Gordon in 1984.

In the mid-1980s, the group landed a contract with the independent label Tempre. Despite the waning influence of small independent labels in the 1980s, LeVert's album “I Get Hot” and its lead single "I'm Still" gained regional popularity in the influential R&B market of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. As a result, the group came to the attention of Atlantic Records and was signed to that label. LeVert became an overnight success, hitting Number One on the R&B charts with the single "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind," from their Atlantic debut album, “Bloodline”. Observers of the music scene noticed that Levert's voice closely resembled his father's. The group, moreover, was clearly steeped in the classic soul harmonies of the O'Jays. However, the sophisticated production work on the LeVert albums gave them a contemporary style.

LeVert's second album, “The Big Throwdown”, was released in 1987 and sold more copies than Bloodline. The album's lead single, "Casanova," reached Number One on the R&B charts and crossed over to the pop charts. Several other singles from the album became hits, and LeVert earned even more mainstream exposure with the song "Addicted to You," from the soundtrack of the 1988 film “Coming to America. "Addicted to You" also rose to Number One on the R&B charts. In 1988 LeVert released Just Coolin', which featured rapper Heavy D and included a groundbreaking R&B/hip-hop combination on its title track. They also released Rope-a-Dope Style in 1990. The group would appear in the movie “New Jack City” singing the song “Living Just Enough for the City” the song would be combined with “For The Love Of Money” for a medley featuring Troop and Queen Latifah on the soundtrack.  

1991,Gerald  Levert went solo with the album, “Private Line”, which went to number one on the R&B charts. The following year, Gerald and his father, Eddie Levert, hit number one on the R&B charts with the single, Baby Hold On to Me. Levert recorded a string of albums throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, The group Levert released “For Real Tho'”; in 1992.  Gerald’s second album “Groove On” was released in 1994. 1995 Gerald Levert and his father recorded a duet album aptly entitled “Father & Son”. In 1997, the group  Levert released their final Album “The Whole Scenario”, an innovative work that included both rapping and classical orchestral instruments.  In 1997 he and singers Johnny Gill and Keith Sweat formed LSG. The group's self-titled album sold more than two million copies, and their hits included "My Body." Gerald appeared in the group Black Men United for the hit single "U Will Know" for the film Jason's Lyric, the movie's soundtrack.   Gerald Levert  third album “Love & Consequences” that contained the hit singles, "Thinkin' About It" (Pop #12) which was releases September 1 1998. Gerald continued to score hit album; “G” , “Gerald’s World”,   “G-Spot”,  “Stroke Of Genius”, and “Do I Speak For The World”
Gerald  branched out into his acting career as Charles Young, his first appearance on The Jamie Foxx Show for 2 episodes with "Just Don't Do It" where Jamie and his mother (Jo Marie Payton) decided to marry him. In January 2001, Gerald appears again in the series finale "Always and Forever" where Jamie (Jamie Foxx) and Fancy (Garcelle Beauvais) got married and sang the opening ceremony at the wedding and joined by fellow singers Gladys Knight and Marilyn McCoo.
Gerald also sung lead vocals in two songs on the 2002 film documentary "Standing in the Shadows of Motown" - the story of The Funk Brothers. Levert performed "Shotgun" and "Reach Out I'll Be There".

On November 10, 2003,  Gerald's final acting role was on an episode of The Parkers, he played T's father (Ken Lawson) where he and his son comes to visit to start a new band. Gerald Levert reteamed with Johnny Gill and Keith Sweat for LSG in 2003 to lackluster success.
Gerald performed a duet with Teena Marie on the latter's 2004 album La Doña.  Gerald Levert released his tenth album, Voices, in 2005. It would be last before his untimely death.
Levert wrote and produced songs for other artists such as, Barry White, Stephanie Mills, Teddy Pendergrass, James Ingram, The Winans and The O'Jays.
Gerald Levert lend his vocals on Jim Brickman on the song "My Angel", for Brickman's 2006 album entitled “Escape.” Levert was posthumously featured on former group mates Keith Sweat's "Knew It All Along" and Johnny Gill from the singer's “Til the Morning album”.

On November 10, 2006, Gerald Levert was found dead in his bed at his Newbury home when a cousin tried to wake him. Initial reports stated that Levert had died of an apparent heart attack. Shortly before his death, Levert completed work on what would be his final studio album, “In My Songs”
On December 7, 2006, it was announced that Levert, along with soul legend Chaka Khan, gospel singer Yolanda Adams, and R&B crooner Carl Thomas were nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Performance by a Duo Or Group With Vocals for their collaboration on "Everyday (Family Reunion)", a song from the soundtrack of Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion.
In February 2007, an autopsy report conducted by the Cuyahoga County coroner's office concluded that Levert's death was caused by a fatal combination of prescription narcotics and over-the-counter drugs. The drugs in his bloodstream included the narcotic pain relievers Vicodin, Percocet, and Darvocet, along with anxiety medication Xanax and two over-the-counter antihistamines. The autopsy also revealed that Levert had pneumonia. The official cause of death was acute intoxication, and the death was ruled accidental. Gerald Levert was only 40 years old.

Following the disclosure of Gerald Levert's cause of death, a family spokesman stated that all the drugs found in Gerald's bloodstream were prescribed to the singer. Gerald was taking the pain medication because of chronic pain from a lingering shoulder problem and surgery in 2005 to repair a severed Achilles tendon.

The album was released on February 13, 2007. In June 2007, a book Gerald was working to complete entitled, I Got Your Back: A Father and Son Keep it Real About Love, Fatherhood, Family, and Friendship, was released. The book was initially planned as a tie-in for a Levert album of the same name. “I Got Your Back” explores Gerald and Eddie’s father/son relationship, the necessity of male bonding, and importance of repairing fractured families.
 Gerald Levert was also working on a reality show in which he was losing weight along with 12 of his female fans, who were training with him at his palatial home.
He was nominated again for the Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance for his single, "In My Songs". At the 50th annual Grammy Awards, it was announced that Gerald had won the award for "In My Songs". Sean Levert accepted in his late brother's behalf.