Music is the one thing that brings people together so effortlessly. The love of music is what brought the fellows (Marc Gordon, Gerald and Sean Levert) together to form one of the greatest R&B groups, LeVert. After great success and a brief break, LeVert had planned on doing a reunion album but with the shocking/sudden death of Gerald Levert in 2006, the group was unable to finish the album. The two remaining members Sean Levert and Marc Gordon made the decision to keep the legacy of LeVert alive and brought in new member Blaque Rose to form LEVERT II.
The trio hit the studio to create a new album, “Dedication” which was a tribute to Gerald Levert. Just as the finishing touches were done on the album, the group experienced another loss—Sean Levert’s unexpected death in 2008. With the sudden deaths of two of LeVert’s founding members (Gerald and Sean Levert), Marc Gordon - the last remaining founding member of LeVert somehow found the strength to push forward with the support of Eddie Levert (Sean and Gerald’s father) and released the album, “Dedication” which turned from a tribute album to a posthumous project with the death of Sean Levert. Marc Gordon with the love for his fellow bandmates (Gerald and Sean) continues to work hard and keep the dream and legacy of LeVert alive through the group LEVERT II. SayWhatNews sat down with Marc Gordon and discussed LeVert’s humble beginnings and success to the tragedies which almost silenced the group forever, to the new music which is helping light break thru the darkness:
SayWhatNews: Good morning LEVERT II. Thanks for taking the time and interviewing with SayWhatNews. Tell us who is LEVERT II?
LEVERT II: LEVERT II started off with 2 original Levert group members Marc Gordon & Sean Levert and new member Blaq Rose.
SayWhatNews: First, I would like to go back to the beginning when the group LeVert was first formed back in 1984 in Cleveland, Ohio. How did the group LeVert (Gerald Levert, Sean Levert and Marc Gordon) come to be?
LEVERT II: It was an instant connection after our moms introduced us, Me (Marc) & Gerald’s common interest in music took over then we started writing songs, put together a band, started doing local shows etc....then finally Eddie Levert (Gerald & Sean’s dad) took us in the studio and started recording our first independent album "I Get Hot" & released our first single "I'm Still". Shortly after that we signed with Atlantic Records.
SayWhatNews: Even though Gerald and Sean Levert’s father Eddie Levert (of the O’Jays) was a music legend in his own right; the group LeVert struggled to get noticed at first by the music industry. During that period when it seemed no door would open, what inspired LeVert to keep pursuing a music career?
LEVERT II: Our love for the music, our determination & drive kept us going, we lived it!
SayWhatNews: With a record deal with Atlantic Records, Levert went on to have 4 gold albums and several #1 hits like “Just Coolin”, (Pop Pop Pop) Goes My Mind”, “Casanova” and “Baby I’m Ready”. How amazing was it to see your dreams come true with such success?
LEVERT II: It was crazy; things were happening so fast, to know all the hard work & sacrifice paid off, it was a beautiful thing!
SayWhatNews: Now, the production team behind the group’s success was the double teaming of you, Marc Gordon and Gerald Levert’s song-writing/producing. What was it about the you two’s magical creativity and chemistry that worked so well to produce #1 hits?
LEVERT II: We were so in tuned from grinding on music all day every day. It was a magical chemistry & we were in love with creating music people could relate to.
SayWhatNews: In 1995, LeVert (Gerald Levert, Sean Levert and Marc Gordon) decided to go their separate ways and pursue individual opportunities. Why break-up the group after so much success?
LEVERT II: As we got older some things started changing internally and when Gerald did his first solo record, it expanded more instead of us working on our issues. (It’s more detailed than that but those details will be in an audio book I'm working on.)
SayWhatNews: Oh ok, you will most definitely have to keep us posted on your upcoming audio book. Now, back in 1997 you (Marc Gordon) and Gerald Levert joined forces to create Trevel Productions which went on to produce and develop R&B groups: Rude Boys and Men at Large. What inspired the production team of Levert and Gordon to reunite?
LEVERT II: We started Trevel before 97", Rude Boys & Men at Large both came out early to mid-90's. We reunited in 2004 to work on a reunion CD.
SayWhatNews: During the time Gerald Levert did his successful solo career, Marc you went on to continue songwriting and producing for groups/artist like IMX, Marques Houston and Musiq Soul Child. So Marc, when you are writing for another artist how do you find inspiration?
LEVERT II: I try to feel the vibe & come up with some direction but for me it's gotta feel good.
photo: Gerald Levert
SayWhatNews: Marc you mentioned LeVert reunited in 2004 and started working on new music. But the project was postponed while Gerald Levert finished another project…..but sadly because of his untimely death in November 2006 the LeVert reunion album was never completed. What happened to those 8-9 songs and will they ever be released?
LEVERT II: I have the songs & will be releasing some with my audio book when it's ready.
SayWhatNews: Now that’s some exciting news, Gerald Levert was an amazing talent. After Gerald passed away, you guys took some time to mourn the loss of your brother and close friend Gerald Levert. The remaining members (Sean Levert and Marc Gordon) decided to reunite the group as planned. Songwriter/Producer Blaq Rose joined the group and LEVERT II was formed. Why did you decide to change the name from LeVert to LEVERT II?
LEVERT II: At first we were talking about changing the name all together but Sean felt we should still use LeVert & I had to agree because that’s the name we promoted our whole career but because Gerald wasn't there , I wanted to change it a lil’ bit so Sean came with LEVERT II & we agreed on that.
SayWhatNews: Blaq Rose has worked with artist like Dr. Dre, K-Ci & Jo-Jo, Anthony Hamilton and Christina Milian. What was it about Blaq Rose that made him the perfect fit for the group?
LEVERT II: I felt we needed someone that could bring some energy and that I could write with. So, when we worked, there was a good chemistry, writing, production & great vocals.
SayWhatNews: “Dedication” is the debut album for LEVERT II and a tribute to the memory of Gerald Levert. I know it had to be mixed emotions while working on this album—on one side your missing your brother/friend Gerald Levert and on the other side your back to doing what you love as the group LEVERT II. Tell us about that time……any memorable moments?
LEVERT II: Working with the O'Jays on "What A Woman" was great but difficult because we knew there was a piece missing, we never worked like that without Gerald.
photo: Sean Levert
SayWhatNews: Sadly, the album “Dedication” turned into a posthumous project after the death of another founding member, Sean Levert in March of 2008. How hard has it been to keep moving forward and promote the new album?
LEVERT II: It's been a real challenge. It was hard enough without Gerald but without Sean, it left me not sure if I wanted to move forward. Then it was 2 & not 3….. me & new member Blaq Rose... after I decided to move forward & put it out anyway, some questioned & scrutinized me, a founding member of LeVert for using the name LEVERT II... all I wanted to do was, a reunion with my guys Gerald & Sean and put together some more magic moments... just unbelievable...
SayWhatNews: Well, Marc, us true LeVert fans are so happy you released the album so that the music that Sean Levert helped create can live on and fans will most definitely be happy to hear the new/never released music from the original LeVert (Marc, Gerald and Sean) when your audio book is released.
The song “My Brotha” featuring Sean Levert Jr. is such a beautiful tribute to the memory of Sean Levert. The album was finalized so why was it so important to add such a meaningful tribute?
LEVERT II: When we started, "Dedication" was the theme, me & Sean did it for Gerald so after Sean passed, it was so heavy, the words & tears just came out in the studio with his son Sean Jr. It was real heavy...
SayWhatNews: Yes, indeed. Just listening to it you can feel the emotion behind the words. It’s a very moving song.
What’s the most important thing you would want fans to know/remember about Gerald and Sean Levert?
LEVERT II: I want to remind people of the good times & feelings they had when they first heard one of our songs or at a concert having a good time, I want to keep those good memories & the legacy alive through the music.
SayWhatNews: During a past interview with MuzicHeadz Show, you mentioned that you will eventually look for a third member to join the group. What’s the status on that?
LEVERT II: I have a few people lined up for the new project but it’s still in process.
SayWhatNews: What's next in the future for LEVERT II?
LEVERT II: We are working on a new CD. After Gerald & Sean passed I started a foundation, to bring awareness & education to our communities about substance abuse called S.O.E.L Foundation (Saving Our Entertainers Lives) drug & alcohol abuse is at an all-time high taking young, old, black, white, rich & poor lives. www.soelfoundation.org
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