About a hundred fans and friends of late soul singer Barry White celebrated the life and music of the larger-than-life icon in a Los Angeles park yesterday (July 7), three days after he lost a battle with kidney disease.
As a vehicle blared White compositions like “Love’s Theme” and “Never, Never Gonna Give Ya Up,” the crowd danced and sang at Leimert Park near downtown, recalling a native son who never forgot his humble roots.
White, who was 58 when he died, grew up in nearby south-central Los Angeles, occasionally getting into trouble with the law before becoming one of the biggest soul stars of the 1970s. He remained active in community affairs, and even sponsored local kids’ baseball teams.
But most people know him for his musical acumen. His stirring baritone voice and sexy lyrics were a key ingredient for any romantic interlude. “Any time we heard Barry White, we knew we needed to stay out of the living room, that [my parents] were having their time,” said Yolanda Williams, a 32-year-old fan carrying a home-made banner.
While the candlelight vigil was festive, it began on a solemn note as a friend of White’s, Mohammed Mubarak, led a prayer, after first reading from the first verse of the Koran in both Arabic and English. Beside him, a fan waved an old White LP, with its discounted $5.99 price tag still affixed.
Event organizer Najee Ali, a friend of White’s children, hailed the singer as a “social activist … who wanted an end to gang violence, an end to poverty.”
White’s funeral arrangements have not been made public yet.
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