*Cuba Gooding Sr., the legendary lead vocalist of the Grammy nominated R&B group “The Main Ingredient,” was memorialized in grand fashion recently at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem. Family, friends and fans from across the United States and Barbados, attended a two-hour service, where they paid tribute to Gooding’s life, music, and legacy. Gooding, who was born and raised in Harlem, died April 20, 2017 in Southern California. He was 72.
Immediate family members that attended the memorial were Gooding’s longtime wife, Shirley Gooding; daughter April Gooding; actor and son Omar Gooding; musician and son Thomas Ware Gooding; and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Oscar winning actor and son, Cuba Gooding Jr., joined family members at J. Foster Philips Funeral Home in Jamaica, New York, and attended the funeral service and subsequent entombment.
“Our dad is home,” said a somber Omar Gooding, star of Bounce TV’s “Family Time,” as he stood with siblings on the Apollo’s stage. “My mother made sure that this happened, because Harlem is where it started happening for my father and ‘The Main Ingredient.’ So it’s only fitting that he has come home to Harlem and the Apollo Theater, one last time.”
In addition to other speakers, which included Shirley Gooding, music producer Charles Wallert, and Gerald Riggs from Church on the Way in California, the memorial service featured musical tributes by singers and recording artists Darryl Tookes, Angela Clemmons, and Alyson Williams. Williams gave a rousing rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer,” a classic spiritual hymn that Gooding, Sr. loved singing. Tookes, accompanying himself on a Baby Grand piano, also sang a heartfelt version of Cuba and The Main Ingredient’s “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely.”
The memorial service was organized by Wallert, who produced songs for Gooding as a solo artist, which included, “Meant To Be In Love,” “If You Were Mine,” “Never Give Up,” among others.
“Cuba was a one-of-kind-singer who could deliver incredible songs with his patented, natural first tenor voice,” said Wallert. “Because of our friendship, there was always this trust between us about the music. For those who love Cuba’s voice and music as a solo artist, I promise there’s much more to come.”
Other Gooding contemporaries in music who paid last respects, but did not perform, were singer/recording artist Shirley Murdock, and R&B and Harlem natives “Guy.” Words of condolence for Gooding were relayed to Wallert by producer Quincy Jones, singer/guitarist George Benson, and singer and recording artist Freda Payne. “
“Cuba Gooding was an iconic and stellar performer,” said Payne, who recorded with Gooding several times. “I, too, was a fan of the amazing group ‘The Main Ingredient,’ featuring the outstanding vocals of Cuba Gooding. Rest in peace, my friend!”
Letters of condolence and acknowledgement also poured in from Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, Harlem Week’s Lloyd Williams and Winston Majette, and others.
At J. Foster Philips Funeral home, family, friends, and fans gathered to view Gooding, who was dressed in a white tuxedo and white wing-collar shirt, with a gold cummerbund that matched his casket. Gooding was ultimately entombed at Trinity Cemetery & Mausoleum in Manhattan. However, before his entombment, the funeral procession weaved slowly through the streets of Harlem, pausing in front of the late singer’s childhood home and Apollo. Along the route through Harlem, many Harlemites waived farewell amid chants of Cuba.
The farewell procession through Harlem was poetic, as Harlem’s own Gooding, Luther Simmons, and Tony Silvester (The Main Ingredient) elevated to world prominence with such hit songs as “Everybody Plays The Fool,” “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely,” “Rolling Down a Mountainside,” “Happiness is Just Around the Bend,” “You’ve Got To Take It (If You Want It).” Other “Main Ingredient” chart-toppers were “You’ve Been My Inspiration,” “Spinning Around (I Must Be Falling in Love), “I’m So Proud” among many others.
“Everything for Cuba, from the memorial service to the funeral arrangements to the procession through Harlem to his entombment at the mausoleum was beautiful,” said Shirley Gooding. “And the outpouring of love for this man, his life, and music was really incredible. Although his death is sad in many ways, I know my husband is in heaven with the Lord. So I’m pleased that God’s will has been done, and I know that all things work together for good, for those who love the Lord.”