Passionate, world-class 1990s soul singer with flair for slow jams and love ballads.
On November 10, 2006, Grammy-nominated R&B star Gerald Levert died of a heart attack aged 40. The singer who was the son of O'Jays vocalist Eddie Levert, first found fame with the R&B trio LeVert, and scored a hit single with Casanova in 1987.
A contemporary soul singer whose smooth yet robust vocals brought energy and emotion to even his most serene recordings, Gerald LeVert grew up in the shadows of his father, Eddie LeVert, Sr., of the O'Jays. As a child, his father's status in the music industry nurtured and helped prepare Gerald for his prosperous music career as a writer, arranger, producer, and performer. As Gerald was entering his adulthood, he, good friend Marc Gordon, and his brother Sean formed the trio LeVert. They recorded their first single, entitled "I'm Still," on the independent Tempre label. Even though Gerald was still maturing as a vocalist, his powerful, stirring delivery on the single is worthy of praise. Peaking on the Billboard R&B charts at number 70, it survived for eight weeks.
Nonetheless, that single set up a deal with Atlantic Records the following year, and it could not have been a better move. Initially, Gerald recorded with the group, scoring five number one singles, seven Top Ten singles, and four Top 20 singles on the Billboard R&B charts, including the Reggie and Vincent Calloway-written and produced number one single "Casanova," which also peaked at number four on the Billboard pop charts. He also managed to make room for a duet with labelmate Miki Howard, recording the number four single "That's What Love Is." In 1991, Gerald released his solo debut album, Private Line. The title track spawned his first number one single as a solo artist on the Billboard R&B charts. The following year, Gerald came back with a duet with his father and scored another number one single with "Baby Hold on to Me" and the number three single "School Me," reminiscent of Babyface's "Whip Appeal." However, in the midst of all his success, Gerald's only major pop appeal remained the "Casanova" single.
Pop producer David Foster presented a pop tune to Gerald, and "I Swear" became a number one and Top 20 hit on the pop and R&B charts, respectively. Subsequently, Gerald returned to Foster's stable to record "I'd Give Anything," also produced by Foster. Formerly a number four country hit for Boy Howdy under the title "She'd Give Anything," Gerald's version managed a pop Top 30 hit. Intended for crossover appeal, the single was actually a bigger hit on the R&B charts, peaking at number four and reinforcing Gerald's major following among R&B music lovers.
In addition to his impressive string of hits, the Cleveland, OH, native rendered his services as songwriter, vocalist, and producer to many artists, such as the O'Jays, Barry White, Stephanie Mills, Troop, Teddy Pendergrass, the Winans, Patti Labelle, Rude Boys, and on and on. In 1997, Gerald added another dimension to his prosperous career; he joined forces with R&B vocalists Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill under the acronym LSG, spawning the hit single "My Body." As a solo act, he released Love & Consequences the year following, returning in 1999 with G. He continued to be extremely productive throughout the early 2000s, releasing the albums Gerald's World, G Spot, Stroke of Genius, and Do I Speak for the World before 2005. Shortly after completing a personal memoir with his father, as well as another album, LeVert died on November 10, 2006, at the age of 40. By mistake, he had taken a lethal combination of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. The album he had just completed, In My Songs, was released a day before Valentine's Day 2007. Something to Talk About, recorded with his father, followed that June.
"Honor the past, don't just remember it." Dizzie Gillespie
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