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"CELEBRITY SPY NETWORK"

Black Billionaire Excerpts:

Rihanna has reportedly been approached for a cameo in an upcoming James Bond film and she's excited about the prospect.  She's always been a big fan of the Bond films and has and always wanted to appear in one. The singer has Daniel Craig's seal of approval.  He went on record saying that Rihanna would be his dream Bond girl.

Real Life Bond Girl:

Rihanna lives the life of a real life Bond girl. She enjoys scuba diving in Portofino and she enjoys yacht dates in Monte Carlo.  Her favorite party spots are Jimmy Z's and the Billionaire club; both venues are located in Monaco. 

The Billionaire club is one of the most glamorous venues in Monaco and is often frequented by top Hollywood A-listers, famous singers and super rich businessmen; race car drive Lewis Hamilton is a regular.

The bottle service at this club includes bottles of luxury champagne, priced at $500,000 for 9 bottles of Armand de Brignac Brut Gold Dynastic.  A team of 12 waiters deliver the bottles to your table.

The club also has sweeping views over the luxurious resort of Monte Carlo, which is renowned for its playground status among the Rich & Famous.

Black Billionaire Excerpt #2:

The alternative for private jet travel is "Surf Air."  For $1,400 per month, you fly to any destination of your choice on an unlimited basis.

Amber Rose has a Playgirl history in Hollywood (before her marriage to Wiz). Allegedly, at a party, she became very friendly with Eddie Murphy and its rumored she made the comment: 'We would make good looking babies.'  Allegedly, Eddie became disinterested right away and summoned his driver to drive her home.  She's also been linked to Reggie Bush, (before his marriage) Fab, LeBron (before his marriage), Chris Brown and Drake.

Actor Omar Epps does well with his finances. He was paid $175,000 per episode on "House," and now he's paid over $200,000 per episode on "Resurrection."  He and his family live in a customized house (built from the ground up) valued at nearly $3 million dollars.  Epps has an impressive investment portfolio.

Gladys Knight has joined the cast of the Fox drama "Empire."  The Lee Daniels' hip-hop music drama debuts in January on Fox and also stars Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson and Gabourey Sidbe.

In Related News:

Speaking of Taraji P. Henson, she doesn't kiss and tell. She's never spoken on her long term relationship with actor Hill Harper nor her brief association with Drake.

"OLD SCHOOL-CELEBRITY SPY NETWORK"

Introduction:

Marva Whitney was considered by many funk enthusiasts to be one of the rawest and brassiest music divas.

In 1967, she turned down offers to tour with Bobby "Blue" Bland and Little Richard before joining the James Brown Revue as a featured vocalist.

James Brown would eventually become involved with Whitney and there were allegations of physical abuse.

Backstory:

When James Brown played Memorial Hall in 1967, Whitney said she was asked to stay late and audition. A member of the band told her to sing into a little recorder.

"He said stay right here," Whitney said. "He went into Mr. Brown's room and then he said, 'Mr. Brown would like to see you,' Oh, was I afraid! I walked in there and he says, 'Hello.' He's nice but very stern when he's into his business … he says, 'You sound pretty good.'"

Marva Whitney's next two years with the James Brown Revue sounded like a dream come true, and a bit of a nightmare. She said he was a musical genius, a shrewd businessman and a tyrant. He had the idea behind her biggest solo hit, "It's My Thing."

"The Isley Brothers were on James' back," Whitney said. "Everywhere he turned he heard, "'It's your thing," do what you want to do.' It was so hot, it was upsetting Mr. Brown. And he said, 'Whit, we gotta do something about that. You're going to sing it's your thing.'"

Whitney also sang some legendary duets with James Brown – at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, and in Boston, the night after the shooting of Martin Luther King. Still, she and other band members said they never received their share of revenues from records and shows.

In Dec. 2009,  Whitney collapsed on stage in front of thousands of fans in Lorne, Australia and was rushed to the hospital where doctors diagnosed a stroke.  The remaining tour dates were cancelled but Whitney made a partial recovery and performed again in 2012.

In Dec. 2012, Whitney died from complications of pneumonia at her home. She was 68.

Keep former Supreme member Cindy Birdsong in your prayers. She is very ill (with an undisclosed illness).  She's been ill for the last few years and last year, the following donation page was set up.

From the HAL Awards Scholarship Foundation facebook page:

The HAL Scholarship Fund will be responding to the needs of a member of our beloved Motown Family. We have established The Supreme Love Endowment Fund to lend needed aid to Miss Cindy Birdsong, who is experiencing severe health issues and accompanying financial burdens.

For all the joy, love and smiles that Cindy has bought to us, her fans, over the years we ask for your help in giving just a little back to her. For those who want to donate via credit card or PayPal, simply go to________.

*What isn't mentioned? This foundation is under IRS investigation.

Although Michael Jackson made an appearance at Kris Jenner's 30th birthday party, allegedly, he was not interested in associating with her or any of her family members on an regular basis but this (allegedly) didn't stop Kris from calling him and trying to instigate a friendship.  According to sources, Kris's motto has always been: 'My daughters are pretty and don't need an education.'  But this didn't stop Kourtney from going to college.

Stevie Wonder will do spot dates for "Songs In The Key Of Life," in its entirety. The album sold over 10 million in the U.S. (diamond status). Over 130 people were involved in the making of the album, including Deniece Williams and Minnie Riperton who sang backup vocals.

CELEBRITY SPY NETWORK COMMENTS

"A NETWORK OF PREP SCHOOL PREDATORS"

by: Amos Kamill

Introduction:

For 34 years, a network of predators targeted dozens of students at NYC's prestigious Horace Mann School which counts members of Congress, Pulitzer Prize winning authors, scientists and leaders of industry.

Backstory:

“Do you remember Mark Wright, the football coach?”

Ten years after graduation, four Horace Mann friends and I decided to go on a camping trip. We had been close in high school but later scattered across the country. And we all sensed that the next 10 years — careers, marriages, families — would pull us even farther apart. So we tied our sleeping bags to our backpacks and headed up to the Sierra Nevada for a week of hiking and bonding.

One night after a particularly grueling hike, we sat around the campfire, eating some burned vegetarian meal and enjoying that pleasing quiet that falls between exhaustion and sleep.

Then one friend cleared his throat. (Like many people in this article, my friend asked me not to use his full name, because of the sensitivity of the subject matter and the fact that these events took place when he was a minor. I’ll call him by his middle name, Andrew.) “Guys, I have to tell you something that happened to me when we were at H.M. Do you remember Mr. Wright, the football coach?” Our metal utensils ceased clanking.

Speaking calmly and staring into the flames, he told us that when he was in eighth grade, Wright sexually assaulted him. “And not just me,” he added. “There were others.” First Wright befriended him, he said. Then he molested him. Then he pretended nothing happened.

In many ways, Wright was the ultimate Horace Mann success story. People who knew him remember him as tall and extroverted, with an easy smile and a huge laugh. He graduated in 1972, a time when African-American students like him were a rarity, then went to Princeton, where he majored in art and archaeology and played right tackle for the football team. A glowing article about him in The Daily Princetonian described him as “a Picasso in cleats,” and speculated on whether he could have gone pro or would get a Ph.D. “I think Mark lives life to the fullest,” the head of his department told the paper, noting that he “exudes enthusiasm and versatility.” After college, he came back to Horace Mann to teach art and to coach football.

“I first had him as an art teacher,” Andrew told me, in the steadied voice of someone who had worked through the story in therapy. “He was a great guy. Funny, gregarious, everyone loved him. He had this aura of success around him, and I was so happy that someone like him would take an interest in a skinny underclassman like me. I felt special.

“One night he called my house and asked my parents if he could take me to the museum,” Andrew continued. “My parents were so excited that a teacher would take such an interest in me.” And this being Horace Mann, he added, “it didn’t hurt that he had also gone to Princeton.” Still, Andrew didn’t feel comfortable hanging out with a teacher on the weekend, so he turned down the invitation. A little later Wright had another idea: he asked to draw a portrait of Andrew.

“It was the night of the eighth-grade dance,” he told me, “and instead of going to the gym, I went to meet him in his art studio on the fourth floor of Tillinghast. He locked the door and told me to undress.” As he got to this part of the story, Andrew’s pace slowed and his voice lowered.

“He told me to bring a bathing suit, but when I got there he said not to bother putting it on. I was really uncomfortable but did it anyway since he was across the room. I remember exactly what he said: that he needed to see the connection between my legs. The next thing I knew, he had my penis in his hand. I was so scared. He was a pretty intimidating guy. He began performing fellatio and masturbating,” Andrew said, now breathing with effort.

“I left the room and walked to where the dance was. I saw all these kids doing normal eighth-grade things. I tried being present at that party, but I was horrified.” Afterward, Andrew said, “it was really hard being at Horace Mann, knowing that if I ran into him, he would get up really close to me and say stuff like: ‘What’s wrong, little buddy? You’re not still mad about that time, are you?’ ”

This was 1978, a different era in terms of public awareness about sexual predators. Today children are taught from a young age that unwelcome touches are not O.K., not their fault and should be reported immediately. But at 13, Andrew hadn’t heard any of those lectures. He didn’t tell his other teachers or his parents. He felt too ashamed to talk about what happened. “What I did do in the immediate aftermath,” he said, “was contribute to the rumors going around that Mark Wright was a child molester, which were pretty rampant at that time. I’d join conversations about it and say that I’d heard he was into boys, etc. But these conversations were always very frustrating, because he had a lot of defenders who would say that people said this about him because they were jealous that he was such a stud.”

Eventually two friends told Andrew that Wright assaulted them, too. “People just talked about it,” he said. That’s how he heard about the physical exams that Wright gave athletes in the gym building. When Andrew’s coach told him he had to see Wright for a physical, he was wary but didn’t see any way out of it. So he opened the door to a small, windowless room and walked in. “There was no pretense of medical examination when I got there,” he said. “He just tried to start molesting me again, and I told him I’d tell someone if he continued, and he stopped and told me to leave.”

G., another kid from my class, who asked me to use only his initial, remembered the same setting — windowless training room, only one door. “I was 14 and recovering from a football injury,” he said, in an almost jocular tone, “when Wright used the purported physical exam to try to engage me in a sexual encounter by touching my penis. Although nothing further happened, I was speechless, and I never said anything to anyone. I never looked at myself as a victim, but. . . .” Suddenly his voice cracked. “In hindsight, I just wish I had said something to someone. Maybe then it wouldn’t have happened to other kids.”

We were only kids ourselves, I said, inadequately.

“I don’t think he looked me in the face when he was doing what he did,” he said later, “and I certainly didn’t look him in the face either.”

Later that year, one of Wright’s examination subjects, a football player, spoke up. “I reported that Coach Wright was performing limited but inappropriate physicals on team players,” the former student told me, “and that I was concerned that he was going to do so on others. The contact was very limited, to about 30 seconds. It was a ‘private-parts inspection.’ ”

When students and faculty returned to campus after the 1978-79 winter break, some told me, Wright was gone. One teacher remembers being told he resigned; others say they got no explanation, as do the students I spoke to.

In all, 63 students (including 15 female students) were rapes or molested by 22 staff members between 1962-1996

Mark Wright is now deceased.

But Wright wasn't the only pedophile on staff.

One student said the headmaster (R. Inslee Clark, Jr. pictured above) got him drunk and hired two male prostitutes who raped him violently. Clark, Jr. also joined in the assault.  The student was never the same and started turning tricks and making adult movies. He also developed a bad drug addiction.  Clark died in 1999.

Robert Berman is alleged to have had sexual relations with underage students.  He denies the allegations.

Tek Young Lin admits to have sex with students.

Johannes Somary retired in 2002 and died in 2011.

Stanley Kops committed suicide in 1984.

COMMENT


"BLACK HOLLYWOOD CONSPIRACY THEORY"

Hours before he collapsed on stage, Jackie Wilson was seen having dinner with two unfamiliar men who resembled shady mob figures.  Allegedly, he argued with the men.  It's been rumored that one of the men may have drugged his drink.

In the middle of his performance, onstage at the Latin Casino in New Jersey, Jackie collapsed and went into a coma for several years. 

Since Jackie was Michael Jackson's idol (due to his dance moves) Michael stepped forward and paid for Jackie's medical care.

It's been reported that Jackie fathered over 20 children during his lifetime and due to an attempt on his life, a bullet was never removed from his body because it was located in an delicate area.

According to a former wife, Jackie was so oversexed that she still gets anxiety attacks whenever she comes upon links, sausage or hot dogs at the grocery store.

Jackie and Sam Cooke also dated the same black model.

Singer/songwriter Kashif, above, (produced for Evelyn Champagne King and Whitney Houston, etc.) would go on to purchase Jackie Wilson's house in Pelham Manor, N.J.

Kashif would later buy Jackie Robinson's estate (after his death).

Recently, Kashif sold a large portion of his publishing catalogue for six figures.

COMMENT

"BEFORE BERRY GORDY, GAMBLE & HUFF AND DICK GRIFFEY THERE WAS INK WILLIAMS"

Introduction:

Jay Mayo "Ink" Williams (born in 1896) was an early recording executive for "race records" with Paramount and Decca. He also had his own labels, "Black Patti," briefly in the 1920's and the longer lasting "Ebony Records," from 1946 until his death in 1980.

Williams' also played football and was an Ivy Leaguer who ran track at Brown University.

He also played in the NFL for 5 years and coached football at Morehouse during the depression.

Although he's lost in history, J. Mayo Ink Williams was the first black music mogul and he had a genius IQ.

Williams also knew the value of publishing royalties and set up a publishing company in the 1940's, with the exception of Sam Cooke (20 years later), it was unheard of for a black man to head a publishing company in the segregated 40's.

Backstory:

Jay Mayo "Ink" Williams (September 25, 1894 – January 2, 1980) was a pioneering African-American producer of recorded blues music. Ink Williams earned his nickname by his ability to get the signatures of talented African-American musicians on recording contracts. He was the most successful "race records" producer of his time breaking all previous "race record" sales.


Williams was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the son of Daniel and Millie Williams. At the age of 7, Williams' father was murdered, and the family returned to his mother's hometown of Monmouth, Illinois, where he grew up.

Williams attended Brown University, where he was a track star and outstanding football player. He also served in the First World War. During the 1920s, he played professional football with the Hammond (Ind.) Pros, becoming one of three black athletes (along with Paul Robeson) to play in the fledgling National Football League during its first year. His playing career lasted until 1926. During that span he played for the Canton Bulldogs, Dayton Triangles, Hammond Pros and Cleveland Bulldogs. But his primary focus at this time was not the gridiron but the music industry.

After graduating in 1921, he moved to Chicago. Although he continued to play football until 1926, his first love was music and in 1924 he joined Paramount Records, which had recently begun to produce and market "race" records. Williams became a talent scout and supervisor of recording sessions in the Chicago area, becoming the most successful blues producer of his time. Two of his biggest discoveries as recording artists were singer Ma Rainey – already a popular live performer – and Papa Charlie Jackson, the first commercially successful self-accompanied blues singer. He recorded Blind Lemon Jefferson, Tampa Red, Thomas A. Dorsey, Ida Cox, Jimmy Blythe, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver, and Freddy Keppard. He also managed a crew of songwriters including Tiny Parham.

In 1927, he left Paramount and started The Chicago Record Company, releasing jazz, blues and gospel records on the "Black Patti" label. One of these releases was The Down Home Boys' "Original Stack O' Lee Blues", believed to be the first recorded version of the song better known as "Stagger Lee", and of which only one copy is now known to exist. Black Patti soon failed, and Williams moved to Brunswick Records and its subsidiary label Vocalion, where he recorded Clarence "Pine Top" Smith and Leroy Carr, among others. However, after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, record sales plummeted, and Williams found new work as a football coach at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

In 1934, Williams was hired as head of the "race records" department at Decca, where he recorded such musicians as Mahalia Jackson, Alberta Hunter, Blind Boy Fuller, Roosevelt Sykes, Sleepy John Estes, Kokomo Arnold, Peetie Wheatstraw, Bill Gaither, Bumble Bee Slim, Georgia White, Trixie Smith, Monette Moore, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Marie Knight, Tab Smith as well as pioneering the recording of the increasingly popular small group sound with such groups as The Harlem Hamfats.

Williams was resented for his intelligence by some black musicians who didn't like his uppity attitude– that is, acting as though he was a member of the white middle class (because he was well spoken and intelligence, this attitude persists today). He acted as manager of many of the artists he recorded, and assumed at least some of the ownership of many of their songs. Songs on which he is credited as co-writer include "Corrine, Corrina", Nellie Lutcher's "Fine Brown Frame", Louis Jordan's "Mop Mop", and Stick McGhee's "Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee".

Williams set up the Chicago Music Publishing Company (CMPC) as publisher for all the titles he recorded. The CMPC collected all royalties generated by the materials it held copyrights on, and was responsible for passing on some of the profits to the composer or performer. A lot of race record entrepreneurs (majority of white men) knew that rural blues musicians were unfamiliar with copyright laws, and they further played upon the musicians' vulnerability by providing free liquor at recording sessions, hoping they would get drunk and sign their rights away.  Today, they give artists cars and drugs instead of royalties.

After leaving Decca in 1945, Williams worked freelance and ran several small, independent labels. From 1945 through 1949, he ran the Harlem label (based in New York City), and the Chicago, Southern, and Ebony label (based in Chicago); one of the artists he recorded was the young Muddy Waters. After a period of freelance producing, he reopened the Ebony label in 1952 and kept it going through the early 1970s.

As plans were being initiated to conduct full length interviews with Williams to gather his life story in 1980; despite his wealth, he died in a Chicago nursing home.

Williams was a member of the National Football Hall of Fame Association. In 2004, he was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

COMMENT

"ENTERTAINMENT NEWS"

Jay-Z and Beyonce will detail their recent problems on their forthcoming album.  They intend to make raw and honest music revealing the difficulties they faced in marriage. Another publicity stunt?

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian may need damage control after reportedly being dubbed "Fashion Flu," following her recent outing at Paris Fashion Week with her husband.  Their presence at the annual overseas event has been less welcoming for attendees.  "People are so mad about Kimye being here," sniffed a fashion insider, adding that Paris regulars are fatigued with the family.  Another insider said Kim and Kanye have been a fashion headache.

Keyshia Cole's estranged husband (Boobie Gibson) was allegedly spotted hunting for women at an erotic Hollywood nightclub.

Amex is suing actor Larenz Tate.  Allegedly he racked up more than $57,000 on his Amex card and hasn't paid a dime.

Bruce Jenner is helping Lamar Odom win back Khloe.  Jenner has reportedly offered words of advice and encouragement to Odom.

COMMENT

"DOUBLE MURDER MYSTERY" (UNSOLVED)

In the wee hours of a balmy, eerily calm morning in North Jacksonville, Florida, last Thursday, the lifeless bodies of two teenage girls, Angelia Mangum and Tjhisha Ball, were discovered alongside a somewhat remote stretch of road just east of Interstate 95 and West of U.S. 17, allegedly naked, bound with zip ties, lumped on top of each other, surrounded by a pool of blood. Two witnesses driving past on Sisson Drive, near the intersection of Main Street North and Clark Road, said they initially thought they saw a corpse; so they flipped a U-turn to see if they could determine whether it was a human body or simply a dead animal, roadkill. On second glance, it appeared to be the former.

Upon confirming their initial suspicions, one witness, Jason Brown, as he recounted to Jacksonville’s WFOX-TV Channel 30, said it “looked like they were tossed from the overpass.” The two passersby then hurriedly dialed 9-1-1 to notify law enforcement. Authorities dispatched to the scene arrived and immediately suspected “foul play,” according to local ABC affiliate, WJXT and the Tampa Bay Times, although what exactly happened to Mangum, 19, and Ball, 18, remains unclear. Autopsies have been ordered. No suspects have been named. No arrests have been announced.

The details of, and circumstances surrounding, Mangum and Ball’s untimely and gruesome deaths have been primarily confined to local media in the Duval County area. Which is to say their story, curious and shocking as it may be, hasn’t made much more than a blip on the mainstream media’s radar.

As with many stories where race and class takes center stage, and where black victims lie slain, the character of the victims as well as their complete history of personal choices, family flaws and the victims economic and social circumstances appear in the media to sway blame on the victim (example below).

The Tampa Bay Times reported that Ball was arrested last year in Jacksonville on a felony cocaine charge, records show, but the charge was dropped.  In April, she was arrested in Tampa by the Florida Highway Patrol on a misdemeanor charge of driving without a valid license.

The records also show that Magnum was arrested twice as a juvenile on burglary and larceny charges in Hillsborough County.  More recently, she faced a charge of failing to appear in Hillsborough court on a burglary charge.

It has also been reported that either one or both of the victims had been working in Jacksonville as exotic dancers at a nearby gentlemen's club.

COMMENT

"NOSTALGIA"

by: John Soeder

INDIANAPOLIS -- You can tell yourself that it wasn’t supposed to be this way.

That two of Eddie Levert’s sons -- the boys who followed him into the music business and who hit the big time themselves -- shouldn’t have died. That this R&B superstar shouldn’t have had to live the parent’s nightmare of burying a child, only to relive it 16 months later. That he shouldn’t have had to spend another Father’s Day without Gerald and Sean.

You can tell yourself it wasn’t supposed to be this way. But Levert refuses to play that game.

“If it wasn’t supposed to be, it wouldn’t have happened,” he said backstage at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. His group, the O’Jays, headlined a benefit concert there to raise money for an orphanage in Haiti.

The show must go on, and for Levert, so must life itself.

“How he does it, I don’t know,” said O’Jays co-founder Walter Williams, one of Levert’s closest friends. They formed their group in Canton in the late 1950s.

For Levert, the big question still lingers. On a regular basis, he asks God: Why did you let this happen to me?

“I wish I could tell you that I had a sense of why, but I don’t,” said Levert.

He plans to spend this Father’s Day with his grandchildren.

“I still wonder: Was it something I did?” Levert said.

“Maybe that’s why I’ve made so many changes in my life, to better myself and try to be a better father, a better husband, a better friend. Maybe that’s the reason why: for me to come to a better place.

“But I can’t dwell on it. It becomes very emotional for me. It gets to a place where . . .”

His voice cracked and trailed off. A long pause. Taking a deep breath, he finished his thought:

“I really miss them. It’s just hard. But I can’t get caught up in the fact that it wasn’t supposed to be like this, because it happened.

“And there was nothing I could do about it.”

Second generation makes its mark

Gerald and Sean were born into R&B royalty. Starting with “Back Stabbers” in 1972, the O’Jays had a string of chart-topping singles, including “Love Train” and “Use Ta Be My Girl.”

Soon enough, the next generation of Leverts was ready to make its mark in the family business. Under their father’s tutelage, Gerald and Sean teamed up with friend Marc Gordon to launch the trio LeVert. They had a Top 5 smash with “Casanova” in 1987.

Four years later, Gerald went solo, racking up more hits and million-selling albums. He also sang with Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill in the R&B supergroup "LSG."

Gerald died Nov. 10, 2006, of an accidental overdose of prescription and over-the-counter medications at his home in Newbury Township. He was 40.

To avoid dwelling on the loss, Eddie Levert threw himself into his work. He continued to perform with the O’Jays and put out a couple of posthumous Gerald projects, including the Grammy Award-winning album “In My Songs” and “Something to Talk About,” a collection of duets between Levert and Gerald.

“Eddie told me that he had to get back to work, to take all of that off his mind,” Williams said.

“I thought it was too soon. But he said he needed to do something. So we went back to work. I could see him at times in the dressing room, staring off way into wherever he was. He wasn’t really himself.

“Before we could put a cap on that -- and I knew Eddie never could, because he told me that it left a hole in his heart that would never heal -- Sean left us.

“That really destroyed him.”

Sean died March 30, 2008, after becoming ill at the Cuyahoga County Jail, six months shy of his 40th birthday.

The county coroner ruled that Xanax withdrawal contributed to Sean’s death. He was denied his prescribed anti-anxiety medicine while in jail for failure to pay child support. Last year, his widow settled a wrongful-death lawsuit for $4 million against the county and the company in charge of medical care in the jail.

Shortly after Sean’s death, the O’Jays had a gig in Louisiana.

“I can’t do this anymore,” Levert told Williams. “This business has taken a toll on me and my family.”

Williams urged Levert to take some time off to sort out his feelings.

Levert credited his wife, Raquel, with helping him cope. Their long-term relationship led to marriage in 2005, the same year the O’Jays were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“She’s so intelligent, so humane, so in touch with God,” he said.

“Her stability helped me get through all of that. She’s been a rock for me, a real live crutch I can lean on. She helps keep me focused. She says that I still have a purpose here, that I still have things that I have to do.”

Faith also has played a key role in Levert’s perseverance.

“My closeness with God has helped me a great deal,” he said.

“I’m no holy roller by any means. But I believe. There are only two kinds of people in the world: the believer and the nonbeliever. I happen to be a believer.

“I read the Book of Job. He lost everything. I didn’t lose everything.

“I lost two sons. It’s not trivial. But compared to somebody who lost their whole family -- do you understand? -- I was left something. God is still great.

“I kept praying to God, and God kept giving me strength. I had days when I blubbered like a baby, just crying. I still have those moments. But I have a purpose now.”

Other friends offered support, too.

Levert is “a bright spirit,” Stevie Wonder said by phone from Los Angeles.

At the star-studded memorial service for Gerald in Cleveland’s Public Auditorium, Wonder belted out “All I Do,” a song from his 1980 album “Hotter than July.” Levert and Williams sang on Wonder’s original version.

The music that Gerald and Sean made “will outlive all of us,” Wonder said. “That’s a great thing.”

And in their father, there is a life lesson for the rest of us, Wonder said.

“His tenacity is really important,” he said of Levert.

“He has made a choice, through all of everything, to live and do the very best that he can do. You can wallow in your pain, or you can celebrate the blessings that you’ve received. He’s one who chooses to do the latter.

“His music is his ever-living mantra. There’s something in the singing and the performing that gives a kind of strength.”

Decked out in matching purple suits onstage in Indianapolis, Levert, Williams and Eric Nolan Grant flaunted harmonies as tight as their dance moves as they glided through a 90-minute set of their greatest hits. A gospel-infused “Love Train” was beautifully prefaced with a few bars of the Impressions’ “People Get Ready.”

Between numbers, Williams took a moment to testify about Levert’s fortitude.

“He’s been through an awful lot,” Williams told the audience. “He’s shown strength the world has never seen before. I love him dearly.”

Throughout the high-energy performance, Levert was the sandpaper to Williams’ silk. “Lovin’ You,” a smoldering slow jam, opened with Williams crooning sweetly. When Levert came in, the song boiled over.

“You make me feel so good from my head down to my toes!” he wailed with hurricane-force soul. “I wanna shout! I wanna screeeaaam!”

It brought down the house.

“The music has always been healing,” Levert said after the show, holed up in a small dressing room.

“With Gerald and Sean, the times we had together onstage are some of the greatest moments of my life, man. The times that I was onstage with them doing ‘Casanova’ or ‘Baby Hold on to Me’ or ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ -- to me, those are priceless.

“Even now, when I go and perform those songs by myself, they’re medicine.

“The most therapeutic time I have in my whole life is that hour and a half that I do onstage. Because for an hour and a half, I don’t think about nothing but the music. Don’t think about the pain in my knees. Don’t think about the pain in my back. Don’t think about how I feel bad.

“All of that goes away as soon as I start doing that music.”

Levert has five other children from various relationships, including a grown daughter, Kandice, from his previous marriage to Martha Levert (the mother of Gerald and Sean), and a 9-year-old daughter, Ryan, with Raquel.

“Now I make time to go to the school programs, the school outings, the graduations,” Levert said.

“I try to be there on those special days. . . . With Gerald and Sean, I didn’t go, because I was always on the road.

“Playing. Going to the park. Cooking breakfast. Those little things right there are so very important.

“This is what you need to be doing with your children. You don’t need nobody outside of you to be their role model. You need to be their role model. That’s what I’ve been working on. That’s how Gerald and Sean made me better.”

Levert and Williams were just kids themselves when they met in Canton. Williams still remembers when Levert landed the title role in an elementary-school production of “The Ugly Duckling.”

“It was a huge success,” Williams said. “The parents and teachers all loved him in that play.”

They got their start singing together in the choir at St. Mark Baptist Church, where Williams’ father was the choir director.

Levert always has been a tough customer, Williams said.

“Going through what we went through to become entertainers in this business was no joke,” Williams said.

“We played the South during the times of cruel prejudice. . . . Growing up the way we did, that’s where the strength comes from.”

Gerald and Sean “wanted to follow Dad into this business and be successful, and they actually did it,” Williams said.

“Eddie was very proud of them and what they accomplished.

“What happened to him has humbled him. . . . It knocked him down a peg or two. He realizes now that in this life, we really don’t have control over very much. And he’s dealing with it.”

Levert has been on the phone lately with Oprah Winfrey, trying to persuade her to cover a weekend of events in Canton and Cleveland in August to benefit the O’Jays Scholarship Foundation.

He also has been pitching television networks about a reality-TV series that would deal with the challenges of raising a family when Dad and Mom -- namely, Levert and Raquel -- have a 27-year age difference between them.

It’s past midnight when Levert finally leaves the ballroom and walks to his room in an adjacent hotel. At the crack of dawn, he’ll catch a flight back home to Las Vegas, where he’ll put the finishing touches on a solo album that he hopes to release later this year.

“When you hear it, you’ll know everything I’ve been going through,” he said.

“This period of my life has been like trying to piece my heart and my soul and my insides back together. Because my insides were pulled in so many different ways. I’ve been going through a transition period, remaking Eddie Levert.”

He already has the perfect album title:

“The Last Man Standing.”

That hole in his heart isn’t going away. But neither is Levert. This last man standing is a wiser man these days, with a word of advice for all parents.

“Spend time with those kids,” Levert said.

“At the end of the day, if something happens to them, you’re going to hurt. But you won’t have regret.

“I’m still grieving. I don’t think I’m ever going to get past that. I wake up some mornings and I would love just to talk to them, to reach over and pick up the phone.

“The only thing I can tell you is that those boys knew that I loved them, ’cause I told them every day. We talked every day. They knew that I loved them.

“And I knew they loved me.”

COMMENT


BLIND ITEM: (FEARED!)

Introduction:

Throughout the history of the music industry, the following moguls: Morris Levy, Suge Knight and Baby are considered the most feared men ever.

Yet another man (who's African American) should be included this category but he's constantly overlooked.  His story below.

Backstory:

This man has been involved in a number of scandals regarding his artists yet he always seems to slither out of it.

No one understood why a black male singer (who can be electrifying in videos) continues to work with him.  Unbeknownst to the public, allegedly, this man has incriminating voice mails, shower photos and suspect tapes in his possession to keep the singer in line and to keep himself on the singer's payroll.

Meanwhile, this man has amassed a fortune between $15-20 million dollars due to songwriting and publishing royalties.

He's also connected to a feared gang whom acts as enforcers on his behalf. If a scandal erupts involving former disgruntled artists, these gang members locate the former artists and threaten them with bodily harm unless they recant the allegation.

Meanwhile, the former male artists who were affiliated with him are all damaged, angry and broke.

Who is he?

COMMENT

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