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Soul music stars fill Levert memorial

CLEVELAND, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- A three-hour memorial for rhythm-and-blues singer Gerald Levert in his hometown of Cleveland featured performances by Stevie Wonder and Johnny Gill.

About 7,500 people filled Public Hall on Friday to pay their respects to the late singer. Many wore purple, Levert's favorite color.

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The audience cheered a video montage while Levert's band played their hits in the background, setting the scene for what was billed as a "Celebration of Life," the Cleveland Plain Dealer said Saturday.

Levert, the son of O'Jays founder Eddie Levert, died in his sleep Nov. 10 at the age of 40. Preliminary test results have indicated that he had mild-to-moderate heart disease. He leaves behind four children.

He was a top R&B performer and producer for some 20 years and had returned from a trip to South Africa with his father where they reportedly met Nelson Mandela.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson was on hand to read a proclamation and so was Ohio congresswoman Stephanie Tubs Jones.

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