Levert receives Jackson Music Award

August 4, 2016 in Entertainment, News

By Stephanie R. Jones

Contributing Writer

Attending the Jackson Music Awards were Judy Thompson (from left), Larita Cooper Stokes, Eddie Levert, Kenneth Stokes and Jessie Thompson. PHOTO BY STEPHANIE R. JONES

Attending the Jackson Music Awards were Judy Thompson (from left), Larita Cooper Stokes, Eddie Levert, Kenneth Stokes and Jessie Thompson. PHOTO BY STEPHANIE R. JONES

Mississippi is the home of blues music but this past weekend several genres – gospel, R&B and jazz – were showcased during the Jackson Music Awards Association’s annual recognition of local and national musicians and other industry professionals.

Honorees on the R&B side included Eddie Levert Sr., lead singer of the legendary O’Jays, along with Johnnie McGee, Doug Stringfelllow and Darrayl Simmons.

The theme of the awards events was “A Journey Through Soul.”

Levert, who was honored as a legend of R&B, spoke at a news conference before the Aug. 1, show at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Jackson.

Levert, who is still performing with the O’Jays in addition to doing solo work said laughingly, “When I heard legend, I think old.”

But he added of the O’Jays, “We are still doing music. We are still the O’Jays, and we are always going to be that.”

Levert talked about the influence of Mississippi bluesmen Bobby Rush and B.B. King on his music. He said he thought playing guitar was easy until he talked to Rush.

As for King he said, “Whenever we were in public, I would always end up kissing his head because of what he had achieved.”

Jackson Music Awards organizers Jessie Thompson and Lee King said having Levert in Jackson was good for Jackson and the awards.

“This is really great for Jackson,” Thompson said. “We grew up on Levert and the O’Jays.”

Thompson compared the sustainability of Levert and the O’Jays to that of the Jackson Music Awards, which celebrated its 42nd year last weekend. “This organization was built on relationships and this community has given JMA its longevity,” Thompson said. Levert and the O’Jays represent that same sustainability, he said.

King, with many years in the music industry, said he and Levert talked about the many bands that have come and gone and those with the power to stay. “For them (the O’Jays) to be together as long as they have is the utmost tribute,” King said.

“He’s the kind of person that helped mold Jackson, Mississippi musicians – people to aspire to be like, people to look up to, Eddie Levert and the O’Jays,” King said.

Performers at the R&B awards included J.J. Thames, Eddie Cotton, Alvin Garrett, Nathaniel Kimble, Tucka, Gourdan Banks and Ms. Jody. One of Ms. Jody’s fans had to be held back by security during her performance.

On the Gospel side, another legendary performer Evelyn Tuttentine Agee (“God Did It”), was honored and performed her signature song July 31. Other honorees were Issac Porter, Stephanie Butler Morris and Pastor Timothy Curry of Tabernacle of Praise Church.

A full list of award winners may be found at jmaainc.com.

Stephanie R. Jones can be reached at srjones13@gmail.com or (601) 454-0372.

R&B singer Nellie “Tiger” Travis and Bluesman Mr. Sip sign a guitar that was auctioned at the end of the awards show. Proceeds went to Special Olympics. PHOTO BY STEPHANIE R. JONES

R&B singer Nellie “Tiger” Travis and Bluesman Mr. Sip sign a guitar that was auctioned at the end of the awards show. Proceeds went to Special Olympics. PHOTO BY STEPHANIE R. JONES