Columbus poured out its love before a funeral Friday for a person who frequently offered his own heartfelt affection in the form of music at local memorials.
Singer Jamaal Combs, 35, died Aug. 12 of a heart condition.
“No one sang a more beautiful version of ‘His Eye Is On the Sparrow’ at funerals,” Larry Fisher, Bartholomew County coroner, said earlier in the week.
On Friday, at least 600 people — 100 more than the seating capacity, including many waiting outside — gathered at Barkes, Weaver and Glick Funeral Home & Crematory at 10th and Washington Streets in Columbus. Many of them had sung karaoke with Combs through the years.
Chris Powers, a family friend since 2004, was among those whom Combs encouraged to sing.
“He just brought it out of me,” Powers said.
Powers acknowledged he was hesitant and unsure of himself as a vocalist several years ago. He sang the first time in public with Combs during karaoke at a local nightspot. They also recorded a variety of tunes together, and dueted on a range of songs, especially “Over and Over,” by Nelly with Tim McGraw.
“He probably was the kindest person I’ve ever met in my life,” Powers said. “He had the biggest heart.”
Longtime friend Jordan Cox, a member of the well-known local Lei’gacy Cox Family Singers, sang material from Boyz II Men to Rascal Flatts with Combs. Plus, he crooned with him at a few Lei’gacy concerts in Columbus.
“His voice really explains it all,” Cox said, looking over a long line of more than 100 people waiting to get into the funeral home. “Singing with him always was such a good time.”
Cox acknowledged that in many nightspot karaoke settings, singers often must sing over people’s chatter. With Combs, whom Cox called “the sweetest man ever,” things often were different.
“People would be talking,” Cox said. “Then Jamaal would start singing. He would be loud — and very good. People would stop, get quiet and turn and start watching him.”
Longtime friend Cheyenne Mockobee recalled that her favorite song to sing with Combs was Journey’s classic, soft-rock hit “Open Arms” at a range of restaurants and bars.
“Everybody knew Jamaal from his singing,” Mockobee said.
And his musical impact continues.
Lei’gacy will perform a fundraising concert to cover Combs’ funeral expenses Sept. 10 for donations at the Fraternal Order of Eagles facility, 930 Washington St. in Columbus. Cox chuckled when asked what Combs would think of such a gathering.
“Oh,” Cox said. “He would try to jump right in with us.”
What: Memorial fundraising concert to the help the family of singer Jamaal Combs cover funeral and burial expenses.
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 10.
Where: Outdoors at the Fraternal Order of Eagles, 930 Washington St. in Columbus.
Admission: Donations of any amount.
How else to help: The Facebook Go Fund Me account for the family at gofundme.com/2jh43erk