Gerald Levert Biography

13 July 1966, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, d. 10 November 2006, Cleveland, Ohio, USA. The son of O’Jays founder Eddie LeVert. Bridging the gap between traditional and contemporary R&B, Gerald LeVert’s fine vocal technique was first heard in 1985 with the release of the debut album by LeVert. By the time 1988’s Just Coolin’ had become a major US success, Gerald had already taken time off from the parent group to produce a number of artists with Marc Gordon, including Stephanie Mills, James Ingram, Miki Howard, the O’Jays and Troop. He also wrote ‘Whatever It Takes’ for Anita Baker’s platinum-selling 1990 set, Compositions. The same year, LeVert’s Rope-A-Dope went gold. As head of Atlantic Records’ Trevel Productions, Gerald also worked with new vocal groups Rude Boy and Men At Large.

All these endeavours preceded the announcement of LeVert’s solo career in 1991. The timing had been carefully planned, and paid rewards when ‘School Me’, ‘Can You Handle It’, ‘Baby Hold On To Me’ (featuring his father) and the title track of the parent album Private Line achieved major success. The songs, written in conjunction with new partner Tony Nicholas, established him as a major force in contemporary R&B, with an equal emphasis on up-tempo dance numbers and balladeering. Afterwards, Gerald returned to work with LeVert (the band), and their fifth album, 1992’s For Real Tho’, earned another gold disc.

Further production work with Barry White, Little Joe (lead singer of Rude Boy), Drama and Men At Large interrupted preparations for a second solo set, which finally followed in 1994. Groove On was envisaged by the artist as ‘a 90s version of a 60s soul show, with a band, a whole horn section, the works’. Once more working with Nicholas, this time the ballads included ‘I’d Give Anything’ (produced by the Grammy award-winning David Foster), which became the album’s first hit single, and the ‘issue’ song ‘How Many Times’, which dealt with a woman suffering physical and emotional abuse. The reconstruction of a traditional soul dynamic was enshrined by the presence of his father as co-producer on ‘Same Time, Same Place’, while ‘Can’t Help Myself’ was originally written for the Forest Whitaker movie Strapped.

In 1995, LeVert enjoyed further international success with ‘Answering Service’, confirming him as one of the leading lights of modern soul and vocal R&B. The same year also produced a well-received collection of duets performed with his father (as Gerald And Eddie LeVert), titled Father And Son. In 1997, Gerald teamed-up with Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill as LSG for the ‘soul supergroup’ album, Levert.Sweat.Gill. His new solo album, 1998’s Love & Consequences featured the Top 20 singles, ‘Thinkin’ Bout It’ and ‘Taking Everything’. He switched to Elektra Records for the follow-ups G (1999) and Gerald’s World (2001), which, although lesser works, maintained LeVert’s commercial presence. Two further mediocre albums for Elektra were followed by his Atlantic Records debut, Do I Speak For The World, which marked a notable return to form. Sadly, LeVert died of a heart attack in November 2006 caused by a fatal combination of over-the-counter and prescription drugs. His final studio album In My Songs was posthumously released in February 2007.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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