The mood was somber at Grace Baptist Church in “Money-earning” Mount Vernon, New York, on Friday (November 18) as close friends and family gathered to mourn the loss of Heavy D during a private viewing that culminated the two-day homecoming affair.
The chapel, with red carpeting and red cushioned seats throughout, was over capacity as famous friends including John Legend, Will and Jada Smith, Usher, Queen Latifah, Jay-Z, NBA legend John Salley, Q-Tip, Salt from Salt-N-Pepa, Kurtis Blow, Al B. Sure, Naughty-by-Nature’s KG, Dana Dane, Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s J.B. Smooth, Play, Jadakiss, Ed Lover, Don King and music executive Tracy Waples, among many, many others, sat and/or stood around the crowded space.
The Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson led the ceremony as Heav’s family, including his parents, brother Floyd, sister Porscha, daughter Xea and others, sat in the front pews holding back tears. Kim Burrell (“Trust in God”), Johnny Gill (“Never Could’ve Made It”), Anthony Hamilton (“A Change is Gonna Come”) and Yolanda Adams (“Just a Prayer Away”) were among the performers.
But the most touching song came as a duet by Heavy’s nieces, Sonte and Sage Meyers, who sang “His Eyes Is On the Sparrow,” as Heav’s sister tearfully joined them for a standing ovation.
“This song is very appropriate because we sang this for uncles Tony and Jerry,” they said, referring to Heav’s two brothers who have also also gone to the other side.
Another stand-out moment of the emotional afternoon came by way of Heavy D’s daughter, who gave a short and sweet speech about how much she loves her father and how much she will miss him. “My father was a wonderful man,” she said. “…He’s still here, not in flesh, but in spirit and love.”
Andre Harrell, who kicked off his Uptown Records label with Heavy D as his first artist, shared a comical anecdote of how he and Heav first met.
“He called me, I answered,” he said. “He asked to speak to Russell Simmons, I said he wasn’t there. I said, ‘I’m Andre Harrell.’ He said, ‘Can I talk to you?’ I said, ‘no,’ and hung up.” But Heavy never gave up, calling Harrell every few days until he drove up to Mount Vernon one day to see Heav, eventually falling in love with the “Overweight Lover.”
“Some people might say, ‘Heavy D wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me,’ but I say I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him,” Harrell said pointing at the closed casket right in front of him.
Diddy also shared words of tribute, bringing light to the room as he talked about practically stalking Heav outside his home and a local pizzeria in hopes of becoming his manager and crediting Heavy for helping him get the internship at Uptown Records that jump-started his career. Diddy also joked about a recent time Heavy D visited him in Miami and ate his precious apple turnover. “Heav, I know you ate my apple turnover,” he said facing the casket as the room exploded in laughter.
While holding Xea’s hand, Reverend Al Sharpton read a letter sent to the family by the President of the United States, Barack Obama, who sent his condolences to the Meyers family. The mayor of Mount Vernon, Clinton Young, referred to Heav as a champion and said he was responsible for putting Mount Vernon on the map before closing his eyes and confessing, in Heavy’s words, “We got nothing but love for you.”
In the end, Heavy D’s body was carried out in a silver casket held up by pall bearers including Eddie “DJ Eddie-F” Ferrell and cousin Peter “Pete Rock” Phillips and driven towards Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, where his body was laid to rest.
Forever remembered, never forgotten. Rest in peace, Heavy D.—Mariel Concepcion and Shaheem Reid