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Luther Vandross was born on this date in 1951. He was a Black singer and composer.
From a Brooklyn, NY, family deep in gospel and soul singing, Vandross had plenty of singing guidance as a child. He formed his own group in high school and later worked with the Musical Theatre Workshop. After a brief break from music in the 70s, an old friend and workshop colleague, Carlos Alomar, invited him to join him in the studio with David Bowie for the recording of Young Americans.
Vandross impressed Bowie and was invited to arrange vocals and sing background vocals for the album. Bowie's US tour also featured Vandross as the opening act. His vocal talent was recognized, and session credits with Chaka Khan, Ringo Starr, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, and others prompted Cotillion records to sign him. His albums Luther and This Close To You (1976) flopped, partly due to the disco backing as opposed to allowing Vandross to express his romantic, soul style. He returned to session work for Quincy Jones, Patti Austin, Gwen Guthrie, Chic, and Sister Sledge.
Composing advertising jingles also financed this work. His performance with the group Change in the 1980s, The Glow Of Love, earned him two UK Top 20 hits in Glow Of Love and Searching. This led to a solo career with Epic/CBS Records. Never Too Much earned him an R&B number 1, while singles, including duets with Cheryl Lynn (If This World Were Mine) and Dionne Warwick (How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye), strengthened his popularity. Then came to Stop To Love (1986) and There's Nothing Better Than Love (1987). Later releases included Here And Now (1989), Power Of Love/Love Power, and Don't Want To Be A Fool (1991).
In 1992 Vandross collaborated with Janet Jackson, BBD, and Ralph Tresvant on The Best Things In Life Are Free. Endless Love, a duet with Mariah Carey, reached the UK number 3 in September 1994. Vandross won countless awards and worked with Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, and Whitney Houston.
He had a stroke in April 2003, and on July 1, 2005, Luther Vandross died at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, N.J. At the time, hospital spokesman did not release the cause of death but said in a statement that Vandross "never really recovered from" the 2003 stroke.
ASCAP Biographical Dictionary
R. R. Bowker Co., Copyright 1980
Heart & Soul
A Celebration of Black Music Style in America 1930-1975
by Merlis Davin Seay, Forward by Etta James
Copyright 2002, Billboard Books