Local singers give tribute to soul legends

By Vickie Evans-Nash
Contributing Writer

In the summer of 2005, R&B artist Luther Vandross, most remembered for his uniquely soulful voice, passed away. The following year, Gerald Levert, R&B soloist and member of the trio LeVert, passed away as well.

Local artist J. Most says he’s been wanting to do a Gerald Levert revue even before the artist’s untimely death. Combining his idea with a Luther Vandross revue, Most says he approached Ray Covington and since the time they initially talked over a year ago the two have developed a good friendship.

Though Covington says Most tends to be modest when describing his own talent, he believes audiences will certainly not be disappointed in the performance at the Knights of Columbus ballroom in Bloomington on Saturday, November 13.

Modest, maybe, but when asked what songs the concert would include, Most was not hesitant to use his talents as a descriptions, singing riffs (“Here and now — a room is still a room — never too much, never too much”) from Vandross and “Baby I’m ready to give you all my love — I ain’t much on Cassanova,” from LeVert.

However, not all of the selections planed for the upcoming concert received regular radio play, especially in the Twin Cities where few if any radio stations other than KMOJ give LeVert regular airplay.

“There’s some songs that we are doing that you might not have heard from these artists for quite a while,” Covington explains. “There might be some new material from those artists that you were just getting used to before they passed from us.”

“In My Songs,” a song that was popular just before Gerald Levert’s death, will be one such song, that Most is particularly looking forward to performing.

“With me, there’re four or five non-radio songs that you would have to be a true-blue Gerald Levert fan to be in touch with…”

“I think there are a lot of Minnesota fans who have heard Gerald Levert songs — what they’ve heard on radio, what they saw on BET — but there’s a library of Gerald Levert songs that some of the Twin Cities may not be hip to,” Covington says. “It may bring a whole new wave of fans to Gerald Levert’s music — to the legacy — that may not have been done otherwise.”

As for the Vandross song that Covington is most anticipating performing, “[It’] what you may have guest it would be: ‘A House is Not a Home’… I know it’s going to be a challenge in front of an audience that is sophisticated, [one] that is looking to hear that song done right. And I want to make sure that I am putting my best foot forward.”

Both artists also appear to be strong fans of one another’s talent: “He has a strong vocal talent, stage performance is impeccable,” Covington describes Most. “Nobody’s going to do Luther Vandross better than Ray Covington,” Most says.

These artists, however, will not be twiddling their thumbs until the night of November 13. Most, who is a member of Command Steppers Group, teaches stepping across the Twin Cities. Classes meet from 6-8:30 pm at the Knight of Columbus in Bloomington on Monday nights, Lucy Laney Elementary School in North Minneapolis on Thursday nights and The Favor Café in South Minneapolis on Sunday nights. Also, look for his next CD release. He is hoping to put out the first single this November, shortly after the concert.

Ray Covington can be heard performing at Le Bourget Aero Suites in Bloomington starting at 5 pm on Fridays, with the Maxx Band at Arnellia’s from 7-10 pm on Fridays and at Sunny’s nightclub in South Minneapolis on Sunday from 6-9 pm.

Sister Spokesman attendees will be treated to a preview of the show on Saturday, October 30 at Arnellia’s where both artists will perform and attendees will have the opportunity to win free tickets.

In anticipation of the show, Most says, “We really want [the audience] to see us as two artists that have worked as hard as they could…to show them that we appreciate them for coming.”

“I’m looking forward to it all,” Covington adds. “I can’t wait to hear the crowd screaming. That’s what fuels my fire.”

Tickets to the J. Most/Ray Covington show can be purchased at Affordable Elegance in Apple Valley, 952-807-1439, Electric Fetus in Minneapolis, 612-870-9300, Urban Lights in St. Paul, 651-647-9850 or Malobe Hair Salon, 612-823-8626.

For more information, call 612-237-5118 or 612-290-0582. Find information on Ray Covington on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ray.covington1.

Information about J. Most can be found at www.myspace.com/lyricsbyjmost.

Vickie Evans-Nash welcomes reader responses to vnash@spokesman-recorder.com.