Chuck Levy, one of 16 finalists scheduled to compete later this month in Morristown’s Got Talent!, died on Tuesday after a massive stroke. The singer-songwriter was 50.
It’s the second tragedy in two months to befall the talent contest, a fundraiser for the Morris School District. Violinist Stasz Klinge-Loy, who won the 2011 competition in a duet with his sister, took his life in December. He was 21.
“It’s been a sad time,” said Fran Rossoff, talent show chairperson.
Everyone involved with the Feb. 27 show is taking the latest news hard, Fran said.
“It’s a great loss to our community. He was well known and loved in the community, and we’ll all miss him,” she said, describing Chuck, a Morristown High graduate, as a “talented singer and guitar player.”
A funeral service is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013–Valentine’s Day–at 1 pm, at Burroughs, Kohr & Dangler Funeral Home, 106 Main St., Madison. Burial will follow at Beth Israel Cemetery in Cedar Knolls.
“He was very, very excited” about his chance to compete at the Mayo Performing Arts Center, said his sister, Adrienne Colangelo of Morris Plains.
She remembered her older brother as “a dreamer, always looking for his big break.
“He was a wonderful, caring, giving person…he touched so many people’s lives,” Adrienne said. That legacy continues: Chuck was an organ donor whose final gifts may be life to others, his sister said.
A flag from the Sharing Network flies in front of Morristown Medical Center in Chuck’s honor, Adrienne said.
The singer collapsed on Feb. 8 in a gym, where he was a personal trainer. Over the weekend he had been scheduled to perform at the WDHA Kidfest; instead, friends came to the hospital to say goodbye.
“It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do,” said Chuck Traubman, a Morristown bass player who performed with Chuck Levy in the band Mid-Life Crisis. He remembered his buddy as an energetic, passionate guy “full of vigor and life,” the kind of pal who could be blunt yet would give you the shirt off his back.
Chuck Levy idolized singer Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, and rooted hard for the New Orleans Saints. Above all, the divorced dad loved his daughters, Lexy and Gabbie, Chuck Traubman said. Lexy has sung in a choir and a quartet at the Frelinghuysen Middle School.
Several years ago Chuck Levy rebounded from a mini-stroke, Chuck Traubman said. The two men watched a football game on TV at the Famished Frog around the holidays. “He seemed fine,” the bass player said.
More than 80 acts tried out for Morristown’s Got Talent! Chuck Levy made the cut with I Never Knew You, a haunting song about the father who walked out on him when he was a toddler. (See his audition in the video above.)
All Chuck Levy wanted to do, he told MorristownGreen.com, was “sell music, write music and entertain.”
The talent show loomed as a milestone, said his friend, Beth Vetter of Whippany.
“He had had a tough time breaking into the professional music scene,” she said. “This thing in Morristown was really important to him. He did take music very seriously.”
Chuck released a CD of original songs, October Summer, in 2010. American Dream is a song from that album:
Born in Newark, Chuck began singing and playing professionally at age 16, and soon was writing songs, according to his website. He took voice lessons from four teachers over a dozen years to hone his skills. His bands included Eastern Potata, Legacy, Strange Behavior and most recently, Hoi Polloi.
Along the way, Chuck gave guitar and voice lessons. He also was an avid player with the Morris Rugby Team.
“He traveled internationally, and had friends all over the world” because of the sport, Beth Vetter said.
Chuck concluded his website message with words that now seem bittersweet:
“I hope you enjoy my music; I have so much more to say.”
In addition to daughters Alexandria (Lexy) and Gabriella (Gabbie) and his sister Adrienne and her husband John, Chuck is survived by his mother, Arlene Inglis, a retired Morristown High School teacher. He also is survived by siblings Eric Inglis and his wife Grace, Michele Speck and her husband Matt, and Luba Levy; and nieces and nephews Rebecca, Ann, Joellyn, Mia, Phillip, Parker, Michael, and Lauren.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Chuck’s memory be made to the Lexy & Gabbie Fund, PO Box 403, Morris Plains, NJ 07950, or the charity of one’s choice .