HOUSTON - A musical tribute is being held here in Houston for an R&B legend. We dropped by on a table reading for the play "Baby Hold On To Me" in honor of the late, great Gerald Levert who passed away 9 years ago.
”I love Levert music. I love the O'Jays. This was a no brainer for me. I canceled something just to do this,” explains actor Reginald Ballard who is from Galveston. You might know him as “Bro' Man From the 5th Floor”. “I can't shake that. I've done only thirteen episodes of Martin, only thirteen and did four years on the Bernie Mac Show and people still recognize that character,” laughs Ballard.
You'll also recognize several other faces in the production. R&B singer Monifah is starring in the stage play and praising Levert. “He was a genius. He was an incredible writer, incredible producer and an incredible voice.
Houston's own Shawn McLemore who was in Colors with Sean Penn and Wildcats with Goldie Hawn is cast in "Baby Hold On To Me" as Gerald Levert. “I'm actually taking on a lot of his characteristics and it's scary. Seems like I felt this dude jump into me. Sometimes I go home at the end of the day and it's like man you're playing Gerald Levert and it’s an honor,” smile McLemore who has an amazing voice himself.
Eddie Levert, a singer from the O'Jays, is also in the play honoring his son. The idea of a musical tribute was conceived a few years ago by some of Levert's friends including his long time body guard Joe Bailey. “I went to the family on my end to make sure everybody was comfortable and cool with what we were doing and hey four years later the baby is born and what a beautiful child,” laughs Bailey.
What can you expect from the play? “A lot of amazing singing, laughter,” answers Monifah.
“By the time you leave you will feel well entertained,” adds Ballard.
“Houston y'all better come on out and check this thing out. You'll be blessed,” says Bailey.
See "Baby Hold On To Me" at the Hobby Center on Sunday September 27th at 7:00pm.