Luther Vandross
Luther the Legend, 1951 - 2005

Luther Vandross 1951 - 2005Luther Vandross is the last great soul singer. Al Green passed him the baton, and Luther ran with it, pacing himself like a long distance runner, recording some of the best R&B, soul, and pop music of the 80's, 90's, and today.

2003's "Dance with My Father," produced the modern day self titled classic. Beyonce', Queen Latifah, Busta Rhymes, Foxy Brown… they shared the spotlight on this CD, taking Luther is some new directions, but showcasing his unique sound for all of his fans.

Luther sang some great duets, with Janet Jackson, Cheryl Lynn, and others, but it was as a solo artist that he’ll forever be remembered, leaving a classic body of work.

Years before he broke through, I remember playing tracks he recorded on the Cotillion label in Atlantic City New Jersey radio, when he billed himself as "Luther." Although not commercially successful, it was clear from the sound that a budding talent was crafting a voice that would eventually develop and expand.

Here's a guy whose style and sound just grew on you, year after year, regardless of your gender. Luther Vandross, an amazing talent with a spirit that will live forever through song.

Written by King for

Luther Vandross, 1951 - 2005

Written by William Ruhlmann (courtesy of AMG & Billboard)

In R&B music, Luther Vandross ranked with Prince, Stevie Wonder, and Michael Jackson as one of the most successful singer/songwriters and producers of the 1980's.

Amazingly, unlike those peers, Vandross for the most part did not cross over to widespread pop appeal, a situation that finally began to change at the end of the 80's and the 1990's.

Born in New York City, Vandross has an elastic tenor that made him a natural for backup singing and commercial work in the 1970's, when he became a top session vocalist. In 1975, Vandross worked with David Bowie on the Bowie "Young American's" album, co-writing with Bowie and John Lennon the number one hit "Fame."

In the second half of the 1970's, he recorded under a variety of guises, cutting two albums for Cotillion under the name "Luther," recording with the session groups Roundtree and Change, and singing on hits by Chic.

In 1981, Vandross signed with Epic and released his debut album "Never Too Much," which topped the R&B chart and sold a million copies. The title track was also an R&B number one hit single and reached the pop Top 40.

Vandross went on to produce albums for Aretha Franklin and other female singers, while maintaining his own career through the 1980's.

His albums "Forever, for Always, for Love," 1982, "Busy Body," 1983, "The Night I Fell in Love," 1985, "Give Me The Reason," 1986, and "Any Love," 1988, were all million-sellers that spawned major R&B hits, but Vandross's pop success was spotty until 1989, when Epic released "The Best of Luther Vandross...The Best of Love," a double pocket greatest hits album containing the new track "Here and Now," which became Vandross's first top ten pop hit.

That proved his breakthrough, and Vandross's next album, "Power of Love," 1991, another million-seller, featured two pop hits, "Power of Love/Love Power," and "Don't Want to Be a Fool."

Things basically went smooth for Luther Vandross in the early 90's, though not so smoothly behind the scenes. He toured with Anita Baker in 1990 and En Vogue in 1993, and on both tours there were disputes that eventually went public. Vandross issued "Never Let Me Go" in 1993, and while it did well, it wasn't quite the commercial powerhouse of his past releases.

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