Recently, I had the honor of spending some time with R&B music legend Eddie Levert. I entered the conversation with the desire to celebrate his longevity in the game. I came out of the discussion impressed with his focus to today’s grind and his desire to remain relevant in today’s challenging music business culture.

Eddie-Levert“I’ve been in the business for 55 years now,” says Eddie. So you’ve pretty much seen everything? “No… there’s always something new. It’s amazing how Charlie Wilson has remade himself and become part of the new music scene. Now I’m striving to get there like Charlie, Johnny Gill and Keith Sweat. They’ve made their name and now they’re able to go out and entertain their fans… plus garner new fans. I’m trying to do the same thing.” You’ve built a huge fan base that I’m sure will follow you. “I want my fans to hear me in this new light with the new stuff that I’m doing. In today’s business you have to present yourself like you’re living today, not yesterday.

“Seasoned artists like myself, Gladys Knight and Patti Labelle, we’re old school and so just to be heard now is a blessing. I consider myself a new artist because no one’s heard of Eddie Levert the artist… they know Eddie Levert of the O’Jays– so it’s hard to get out from under that shadow.” But being a legend… isn’t that a good place to get out from? “Absolutely, but this is what I didn’t understand when my son (Gerald) made his transition from Levert to a levert2solo artist. He used to tell me, Dad it’s hard to get out from under the group stigma. I have to make people know me as a single artist. Now I’m in that same place. It’s a good thing he forewarned me, else I’d be going mad right now.” Then let’s call it a blessing and a curse. “Hey man, there’s never a day that goes by when I don’t think of my sons Sean and Gerald. Gerald was a visionary and one of the best writers and producers when it came to what was happening now and in your face, I miss him very much. I miss my sons.”

Eddie, Johnny and Keith

Keith Sweat, Eddie and Johnny Gill

What about today’s music business? “It’s different now. I’ve got a website and Twitter account, Facebook and Instagram. That’s what this business has come to and for artists like me it’s a whole new world. We have to re-educate ourselves to a business that relies on social media to stay in contact with people. That’s why I say it’s like I’m a new artist and have to let my fans know that I’m doing something separate and apart from the O’Jays. This is what I think has been so great about some of these artists out here. Look at New Edition, and how they were able to take themselves and make new entities with Bobby Brown, Johnny Gill and Ralph Tresvant, then BBD and remember my son was a part of Levert and LSG. This is a way of reinventing yourself to prolong your stay in the business.”

O'Jays coverYou’ve been a part of some timeless hits with “For the Love of Money”, “Stairway to Heaven”, “Message In Our Music”, “Love Train”, “Let Me Make Love To You” and others. What is your favorite O’Jay’s song? “I love ‘Back Stabbers’. It’s classic. I saw Gamble and Huff take something that was average and turn it into something special. The song was written by McFadden and Whitehead but when Kenny and Leon gave it the rhythm, you knew it was going to something. We sang the background vocals first and we started feeling it, then we put the leads on and it was seriously grooving but by the time they added the horns and strings we know we had a hit record. It has a strong beat and it’s so descriptive. It’s a great record!” And the message in that song still applies today.

“When I came along back in the day, it was all about the glamour. You would sell your soul just to be on stage. This business will make you do all kinds of things. This game is still about who can put people in the seats and be entertaining. The O’Jay’s entertainment game is just as sharp as ever because with age comes maturity. We’re working on a new O’Jays record and we’re always touring.”

Eddie new (640x640)Tell me about your new project. ‘“Say It Ain’t So” is a result of me learning things in the past. You know, ‘should, woulda, coulda’, so I spent a little more time and really gave it a shot. I came up with some really good songs for this CD. “Say It Ain’t So” is one of my favorite songs on the album– it’s got that little stepper’s groove to it and it feels good. Eddie Sims and Belinda Wilson talked me into putting out this particular single so I’m putting all the blame on them,” he laughs. You couldn’t be with better people; Eddie and Belinda and their team are the best!

Eddie Levert, Sr. is an iconic and legendary singer and entertainer… and as a fan, I feel blessed to have him and his music in the soundtrack of my life… maybe you agree with me. Clearly, Eddie left me with a new-found respect and admiration.

Eddie Levert’s new CD, “Did I Make You Go Ooh” is available now at Amazon, iTunes at at

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Throwback Classic Photo

Kevin and The O'Jays

The O’Jays along with record rep Joan Scott visiting KGFJ-LA and PD Kevin Fleming. circa 1989