As the son of O’Jays frontman Eddie Levert, Gerald Levert was born into American soul royalty. He formed the R&B trio LeVert in 1984 while he was still attending high school in Shaker Heights, Ohio. The group – which also comprised his younger brother Sean and friend Marc Gordon – was among Atlantic Records’ top urban acts of the ‘80s and ‘90s, unleashing a succession of hits, among them the pop smash “Casanova.”
Levert made his solo debut with 1991’s EastWest release, Private Line, featuring two R&B #1 hits in the title track and “Baby Hold On To Me,” a duet with his famous father. In 1994, he joined the Elektra family when Sylvia Rhone, who had been running Atlantic’s Atco/EastWest division, moved over to become head of the Elektra Entertainment Group – the first African-American woman to become chairman of a major label. Rhone brought with her many of the artists she had been nurturing at EastWest, including Levert.
In 1997, Levert co-founded LSG, an urban R&B supergroup also comprising Johnny Gill and Elektra labelmate Keith Sweat. Fueled by the #1 R&B/Hip-Hop hit, “My Body,” the trio’s Elektra/EastWest debut album, Levert. Sweat. Gill, made a top 5 Billboard 200 debut on its way to RIAA platinum certification.
Levert’s first Elektra release came with 1999’s G, an ambitious collection that included the R&B hit, “Mr. Too Damn Good.” Levert’s next three albums, including 2001’s Gerald’s World, 2002’s The G Spot, and 2003’s Stroke of Genius, made top 10 debuts on the Billboard 200 upon their respective releases, with the third set also hitting #1 on the R&B album chart.
With Elektra entering dormancy, Gerald returned to Atlantic in 2004 with Do I Speak For The World. On November 10, 2006, he passed away from acute intoxication caused by the accidental combination of prescription narcotics and over-the-counter drugs; he was 40 years old.
In 2007, Levert’s final solo album, In My Songs, debuted atop Billboard’s “Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums” chart while also entering the overall Billboard 200 at #2. The acclaimed album’s title track later earned Levert his first-ever Grammy for “Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance,” an award memorably accepted on his behalf by younger brother, Sean. Sadly, Sean Levert died shortly thereafter from complications related to sarcoidosis; he was 39.