A Word With Eddie Levert - How He Loves Connecting With His Fans
Eddie Levert has helped millions of fans dance and find romance for nearly 60 years. His raw, soulful voice has delivered a string of hits for The O’Jays, collaborations with his son, Gerald, and as a solo artist on his own. Romantic and funky all at the same time, his songs never go out of style and Eddie has no plans to slow down. We got a chance to talk to him recently about how his love for the music and his fans will keep him on stage for even more decades to come.
The O’Jays put Philadelphia Soul on the map in the early 1970s with million-selling singles that, like fine wines, get better with age. Songs like “Back Stabbers,” “Love Train,” “I Love Music,” “Forever Mine,” “Use Ta Be My Girl,” “Give The People What They Want,” “Stairway To Heaven” and “For The Love of Money". Those grooves are irresistible. The group landed twenty albums in the Top 20 chart, thirteen Top 10 singles and countless gold and platinum albums, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004 and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from BET in 2009.
And, still, with all of that success and all of those hits, Eddie Levert has never stopped pushing himself to deliver even more to his fans. After decades of recording and touring with The O’Jays, he released his very first solo album in 2012, “I Still Have It.” “I thought of doing a solo album for a long, long time,” Eddie explains, “It had always been a dream of mine and I finally found the time to try to do it.” “I really wanted something different than what we were doing with The O’Jays, a sound that would be just a little different than the Eddie Levert that you heard with the group. You’ve always got to search and find a different voice,” he added, revealing how strongly he felt about giving the fans something new, something special.
“I’ve always admired The O’Jays,” Eddie says, who has an endearing habit of referring to his own group as if he was a fan himself. “With The O’Jays, you’ve got Eddie Levert and Walter Williams. You’re getting both sounds in one song. I’ve always admired that chemistry and how it flows together - whenever you get the right song, it’s a great flow. But when I started my solo work, I found out in the process that it’s a little hard, it’s a little different,” he adds. “It’s a hard process and I think it’s a growing process.”
“The Eddie Levert voice with The O’Jays is more like soul and is raw, almost like chitlins,” he describes with a laugh. “You know, everybody doesn’t eat them but if I put them under glass and on a tablecloth and I call it a delicacy, some folks might take it,” he explains with a mischievous gleam in his eye. But Eddie was up for the challenge, and brought his voice to new levels in songs like “Did I Make You Go Ooh.” Get your copy here.
Lately, Eddie has been using his voice for something different altogether, taking to Facebook Live to connect with his fans. Every week or so, he pops up on his Facebook page and answers questions from people all around the world. “It’s really great,” he says with excitement in his voice. “I started doing this as a way to promote my latest album, and then I started feeling like I wanted to really say something that might be helpful to or give something back and show that I care.” “For example, this Friday, I’m going to ask about what their favorite O’Jays song is and then will put them in the show, songs that the fans really want to hear. I want to make our concerts an evening for the fans."
The upcoming Soul Train Cruise will give Eddie yet another way to get close to those fans, something he loves dearly. “All I can tell you is that the people who come on the Soul Train Cruise are very, very good. They are really, really nice people and we had such a great, great time,” he reminisces about his time spent on the cruise last year. “The special thing about that cruise is that those are people who are really true fans. They know your music and they’ve been with you since Soul Train was on television. You’re around people who call you by your first name. They know you from the back. It’s really great. I really had a great time with it.”
“I’m going to try to do some things with Dennis Edwards and Gerald Alston on that cruise,” he adds. “Dennis is one of the most talented and unique voices in show business and the way he is able to deliver it is amazing to me. And Gerald is a singer’s singer. He’s knows how to hold the notes, how to get the value of it. I’m looking forward to it.” So are we, Eddie, so are we!