b. Luther Ronzoni Vandross, 20th April 1951, New York City, New York, U.S.A.
d. 1st July 2005, JFK Medical Centre, New Jersey, U.S.A.
Although this artist is considered by some soul purists to be too mainstream, Luther Vandross had one of the finest voices in soul music. Luther was born into a family with deep gospel roots and constructed his own group whilst still at school. He also worked with the musical theatre workshop 'Listen My Brother' and also performed at Harlem's Apollo Theatre. In the mid seventies, Luther was invited to join David Bowie's entourage for his 'Young American's' album project. The collaboration became so, mutually, successful when Bowie's U.S. tour was underway, Luther was the opening act.
Following on from this success he sang alongside Chaka Khan, Ringo Starr, Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer. This let to the Cotillion label taking the singer on and he recorded a debut album with a band he formed, simply called Luther.
The albums 'Luther' and 'This Close To You' are today considered highly by todays soul purists, with the latter reaching high prices.
Luther then reverted to session recording. He contributed to many recording sessions ranging from the likes of Quincy Jones, Patti Austin, Gwen Guthrie, Chic and Sister Sledge.There was the opportunity on the table for a deal with Quincy, however, that never transpired.Luther was reported to have been devastated. He continued, however, to subsidize his recordings, at the time, by producing music for various network television advertisements, including Coca Cola.
One of Luthers most successful session recordings came with the group Change on the 1980 album 'Glow Of Love' earning the band two UK Top 20 hits in 'The Glow Of Love' and 'Searchin'. Luther then began performing as a solo artist with Epic / CBS Records.
'Never Too Much' earned him an R & B number 1. The subsequent album reached number 20 in the U.S. R & B charts.
'Never Too Much' then made the the UK Top 20 at a lter date. His follow up releases included duets with Cheryl Lynn ('If This World Was Mine') and Dionne Warwick ('How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye'). Luther followed up with two further R & B number 1 hits with 'Stop To Love' (1986) and a duet with Gregory Hines, 'There's Nothing Better Than Love' (1987). He has won countless awards and his reputation as a producer has been enhanced by his work with Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin. If, at any time, you are looking around your local record store, keep an eye out for an album entitled 'See You In L.A.' by the group Mascara. The front cover depicts two models one of whom is the late Paula Yates. Luther's vocal talents are to be found on his cover of The Tymes track 'It's Cool'. An undiscovered gem. An album 'Luther Vandross' was released in 2001 after a label move to J Records. The set was the biggest selling of all of Luthers albums and was seen as a real return to form. Vandross lost 9 stones in weight prior to the albums release!
In 2003, he completed an album entitled 'Dance With My Father' for the same label when disaster struck and Luther had a stroke.
There were reports of him never singing and even of his death.
Luther developed pneumonia and underwent a trachioctomy, at the Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, an operation which doctors reported would not affect his vocal chords.
Unfortunately, Luther Vandross died 1st July 2005 at the JFK Medical Centre, New Jersey, U.S.A. He was 54.