No one can question the impact Eddie Levert has made on the music industry. Fans have literally watched him entertain the masses for more than 50 years, showing those who aspired superstardom that anything was possible if the work was put in. They all watched as he raised a family of superstars, with two of his children, Sean & Gerald Levert, reaching amazing heights in the entertainment world. He truly laid the foundation, showing them what it was to work hard at what he loved. Indeed, he worked extremely hard. Eddie spent many years fronting the O’Jays, worked on several projects with Gerald Levert, and launched an uber-successful solo career that still carries on strong this very day. We’ve also seen him hit the big screen a few times in a way like no other.
We had the distinct honor of catching up with Mr. Levert recently, and he slowed down, if only for a moment, to talk with us about what it meant for him to be considered a legend and what legendary means to him. He takes a brief moment to relive his recent appearance on The Soul Train Awards’ Soul Cypher, and what it meant to be a part. Finally, he gives us a glimpse into the new material he has been working on, as well as his new single, “Did I Make You Go Ooh”.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I’m immensely grateful in being able to connect with you today Mr Levert. You've been so instrumental in the lives of my family alone with your music. Many of them come from Canton as well, so they've followed you for years, as I have. In addition, we've all followed your children and their legacy which continues to thrive in this industry. Anytime I've met you, you have always been extremely humble and encouraging. Your children were the same. I recall interviewing Gerald and he and I spoke for almost two hours for a 15-minute interview at 8am. He was always nice and welcoming. The fact that he and Sean were that way speaks volumes to upbringing and foundation. We're featuring you in a monthly series we title Legendary, and for all you've done in music, life, and the lives of so many others, that alone makes you legendary to us. I know that's not the first time you've heard your name associated with being legendary, so where does that title resonate with you when you hear yourself being considered as such? What does it mean to you, to be legendary? What do you define as legendary?
Eddie Levert: Thank you so much for that. That means a lot to me. For me, legendary means someone who has been here for some time. It's someone who has done things in their life to make changes for the world and other people's lives. I think of individuals like Martin Luther King, Jr. I think of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has brought me this far in life.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I love the fact that you mention and speak of Jesus Christ
Eddie Levert: but you have to understand that I'm not heavily religious. I'm not in church every Sunday
Urban Grandstand Digital: Understood, mostly because I'm the same. I'm not there every Sunday, but that foundation is most certainly there for me. I see it as the same for you, that regardless of you not being there each week, that foundation is there. That foundation was instilled in both Sean and Gerald. I recall interviewing Gerald at 8am, and we spoke for two hours for what was supposed to be a 15 minute interview.
Eddie Levert: Exactly (laughing). That sounds just like him. The foundation is definitely there.
Urban Grandstand Digital: We've watched you for more than 50 years doing whAt you love. From the O'Jays to a tremendously successful solo career, along with things like The Fighting Temptations, you've done it all. What, in your mind, has been the key to your longevity?
Eddie Levert: In my time, I've worked to bring you real R&B. Whether it was with my solo material or with the O'Jays. I have Did I Make You Go Ooh and it's doing well.
Urban Grandstand Digital: Recently, you were at the head of the soul cypher for the Soul Train Awards. Obviously, you're the favorite artist of many of our favorite artists. There was a clear connection with you and K-Ci at the close of the cypher and it was obviously how much he loves what you do and respects your craft. What was it like for you to connect with him, along with Lalah Hathaway, Chrisette Michelle, and Ms. Erykah Badu?
Eddie Levert: It was amazing to connect with each of them. I've had the pleasure of doing shows with them throughout my career. There is definitely a connection with K-Ci and I. The thing is, my son Gerald is responsible for bringing me into that circle. He connected me with people like Flavor Flav, and Heavy D, and so forth. I often do shows with LSG. I go out with them to make sure they're not getting all the money (laughing). I'm always grateful to Erykah Badu and I will forever be grateful to her.
Urban Grandstand Digital: I don't think many people realize that you still have a child in adolescent years. What is the legacy that you strive to leave for your daughter?
Eddie Levert: Yes. But in her mind, she's not a child anymore (laughing). I want her to see that it's possible to do this. She wants to be a performer.
Urban Grandstand Digital: the beauty is that she has seen everything though.
Eddie Levert: Yes, she has. She always says that too. She'll say daddy, when I become a performer I'll do this, or I'm not going to do this.
Urban Grandstand Digital: You have nothing to worry about. You've laid the foundation. She also learned the same lessons from both Sean and Gerald. She has no choice but to make it at this point. So, as someone who has experienced great success not only in career but in life, What has been your greatest accomplishment in your eyes?
Eddie Levert: There's been so much over the years. My greatest achievement has been my children. I've raised then to be respectful and treat people right. I'm still doing it. My children have been my greatest accomplishment.