Stevie Wonder, Usher, Jermaine Dupri and Angela Winbush were among the thousands of celebrities, fans and family members at Cleveland’s Public Hall facility Friday to attend a musical tribute to R&B singer Gerald Levert, who died Nov. 10. Standing in front of a huge framed picture of the late artist, Wonder joined Levert’s father, Eddie Levert of the O’Jays, and Levert’s brother, Sean, to lead the audience in a spirited, energy-filled mixture of memories, music and good olâ€™ fashioned church fervor.
“You all really don’t know how big his heart was,” said Eddie Levert, who joined Sean to sing a touching rendition of Luther Vandrossâ€™ “Dance With My Father.” Both father and brother personalized the words for Gerald. Sean joined Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill, his brother Gerald’s partners in the group LSG, to perform Levert’s biggest hit “Casanova.” Eddie Levert kissed his sonâ€™s framed picture at the end of the performance. Elder Levert said performing was Gerald’s great love. “That came from his heart, his soul, his whole body,” the father said. Wonder, who clasped Eddie Levertâ€™s hand, said he was thankful for Geraldâ€™s gifts. “I’m here for you, Gerald, because I love you,” said Wonder. â€œI’m here to celebrate my love.”
Usher told the audience: “When I came here, I expected to mourn.ï¿½ï¿½? Instead, he said: “I actually cried tears of joy.” Speaking with reporters before the service, Usher said Levert was always willing to encourage up-and-coming talent. “He was like an uncle or a brother.” (See video footage of Usherâ€™s interview below the break.)
Journalist Ed Gordon also attended the service, which lasted about three hours and featured Judge Greg Mathis as the main eulogis. To see/download the program from Gerald’s memorial service, Click Here. Levert died at his suburban Cleveland home at 40. A preliminary autopsy showed he had heart disease.
Usher talks about Gerald Levert