- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
Star-studded sendoff at Heavy D funeral service
MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (AP) - Heavy D was remembered with laughter and tears Friday during a star-studded funeral service that included Jay-Z and Will Smith, humorous anecdotes from longtime friend Diddy, and words of encouragement for the late rapper's family, delivered in a letter from President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.
"We extend our heartfelt condolences at this difficult time. He will be remembered for his infectious optimism and many contributions to American music. Please know that you and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers," read the note from the Obamas, according to the Rev. Al Sharpton, who quoted from it during the service.
Xea Myers, Heavy D's 11-year-old daughter, also spoke briefly, telling the audience that her father was "still here, not in the flesh, but in the spirit."
Grace Baptist Church was filled to capacity for the two-and-half-hour service, which was also streamed live on the Web. It was so crowded, an overflow area was set up. Among those in attendance were Usher, Queen Latifah, Don King, Q-Tip, John Legend and Rosie Perez.
"Silently he's been influential in a lot of our careers," Usher said after the service. "His love still lives on."
A large photo of Heavy D sat next to his closed casket.
Heavy D died last week in Los Angeles at the age of 44. His family said the death was due to complications from pneumonia.
The self-proclaimed "Overweight Lover" was born in Jamaica but reared in Mount Vernon, which he dubbed "Money Earnin' Mount Vernon." It was also the home of Sean "Diddy" Combs. Diddy talked about how Heavy D helped give him his start in the music industry, and how their decades-long friendship continued up until Heavy D's death.
"He became my friend. He became my brother, and I'm not talking about friend-brother like we cavalierly use the word, I'm talking about a real friend, a real brother," Diddy said. "Somebody I shared my dreams and my secrets with, somebody that's been there for me at my lowest point, my darkest hour when nobody wanted to be beside me."
But he also told jokes as he recounted his "bromance" with the rapper, including a recent visit to Miami that was supposed to last for three days, but "turned into three weeks." He added that Heavy D got to know his chef "very well."
Sharpton also drew laughter when he noted that James Brown "made us black and proud; (Heavy D) made us fat and proud."
But singer Johnny Gill was tearful when he approached the altar, saying: "Just want to say to Heavy: Job well done." He later gave a powerful rendition the gospel hit "Never Would Have Made It." Heavy D's nieces were also teary-eyed as they sang the gospel standard "His Eye Is on the Sparrow." Yolanda Adams and Anthony Hamilton also performed.
Heavy D, whose real name was Dwight Myers, was influential in the development of rap as it grew into a phenomenon in the late 1980s and 1990s. His hits included "Now That We've Found Love" and "Nuttin' But Love"; much of his music marked the "New Jack Swing" era in urban music, and he stood out from the pack with his rhymes, typified by a positive vibe and a lightheartedness that endeared him to so many.
Salt, of Salt-N-Pepa, recalled touring with Heavy D & the Boyz, and said the rapper always told her: "I love you."
"He was a lifelong buddy to me," she said after the service. "Just now I realized how many lives he touched."
A fund has been set up to financially aid Heavy D's daughter; details were available on the website http://www.rememberheavyd.com.
Mesfin Fekadu covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/musicmesfin
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- Inside China: Ukraine gets nuke umbrella
- House votes for bargain to end budget drama
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- 80 people publicly executed across North Korea for films, Bibles
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
- MALCOLM/REIMER: Over-criminalization undermines respect for legal system
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Consummate traveler Todd DeFeo explores the unique stories that make destinations worth going to.
Covering the world of soccer, including the World Cup, Major League Soccer, D.C. United and the English Premier League and other interesting sporting events.
Born in 1930 in rural Missouri, Charles Vandegriffe, Sr., brings his time and place to the Communities.
Columns from Voices around the World talking about the events, people, politics and social issues that concern us wherever, and whoever, we are.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow