LONG BEACH, California — One of the West Coast's most iconic hip-hop voices filled the air on Friday (March 25) as family, friends and fans waved goodbye to Nate Dogg.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the New Hope Baptist Church to pay tribute to the late singer, who died last week at age 41. The service, which was open to the public, included close friend and actor Ricky Harris and collaborators Daz Dillinger and producer Battlecat. Some mourners came from as far away as London, New York and San Francisco to pay their respects to the golden-voiced singer.
Nate Dogg was an accomplished artist who not only helped define the sound of West Coast rap via his memorable collaborations with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and others, but also helped earn top 10 tracks for Eminem and 50 Cent in the past decade. He died on March 15 due to complications sustained in the years following two separate strokes. At the time of his death, he had been resting at the home of his mother Ruth Holmes, not far from the church.
New Hope was more than a temple of worship for Nate Dogg; it is also where he got his start in music, honing what would later be an inimitable voice by singing gospel in the choir there with sister Pamela Hale-Burns, now a reporter for the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
"Singing is something that we grew up doing, and I'm just glad to know that my brother was able to do what he loved," Hale-Burns told MTV News. "I said earlier that he chose a career where he never worked a day in his life, because he loved doing what he did."
The church is also just a few blocks away from VIP Records, the legendary independent shop where Nate started his career along with Snoop. It's immortalized in Snoop's video for his debut single "Who Am I (What's My Name?)."
"What this means for me today is just to keep on striving, to keep on pushing the line that we set 20 years ago until now," said Daz, who ended his tour to attend the service. "I'm just here to celebrate Nate Dogg's life."
Nate's older sibling Samuel Hale, a.k.a. Sam Dogg, asked that Nate's fans never forget the man who left a legacy of countless hit records behind.
"Remember his voice, his talent, and keep the family in prayer," Sam said. "My brother is a legend, and we're going to miss him a whole lot."
Nate Dogg's funeral will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Long Beach Cruise Terminal (formerly the Spruce Goose Dome), adjacent to the Queen Mary hotel. While access to the funeral will be limited, a service for the public will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Dome, the Press-Telegram reports.
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