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About Luther Vandross
Born in New York in 1951, Vandross’ parents and particularly his mother encouraged their children to pursue music as a career. His father died due to diabetes when Luther was eight. Vandross’ older sister Patricia was a member of the 50s band The Crests. Vandross had begun playing the piano at the age of three and starting taking lessons at five. He was deeply immersed in musical activities at school, and attended university for a brief period before dropping out to pursue a career in music, which turned out to be a fantastic decision!

In 1972 Vandross got two of his compositions In This Lovely Hour and Who’s Gonna Make it Easier For Me, on Deloris Hall’s album Hall-Mark. During this period he also sang backing vocals for many artists like Maggie Bell and Stephanie Mills, sometimes even without credit. Carlos Alomar, who was David Bowie’s guitarist, invited Vandross to attend a recording session, where Vandross quickly turned himself from an idle spectator to an active participant, providing backing vocals and participating in the vocals arrangement. He ended up co-writing the song Fascination with Bowie. While meeting and mingling with different artists of the time, he soon began to get steady work as a backing vocalist and arranger. He appeared on albums by numerous artists such as Midler, Nils Lofgren, Average White Band Ringo Starr, Cat Stevens, Quincy Jones and Ben. E. King. It was around this time that Vandross began writing as well as singing commercial jingles, which might not provide commercial success, but certainly provided a good living.

His profile became more and more prominent around the late 70s and early 80s. Luther was appearing on several albums as background and sometimes for arrangement. Luther arranged for Barbra Streisand and Donna Summers’ number 1 pop hit duet No More Tears in 1979 and was prominently credited for it. In 1980, Vandross appeared on more albums by the likes of Chaka Khan and Melba Moore and more significantly as a lead vocalist on tracks by a group called Change. Searching and The Glow of Love, both made the R&B charts, increasing Vandross’ profile immensely. A solo contract was on the way and sure enough, the next year, Vandross signed with Epic Records and started working on his debut album Never Too Much, which was released in August that year. Never too Much, the single, made it to number one on R&B Charts, and there was no looking back for Vandross after that.

Vandross released several albums after this, most going on to become a huge success. He won his first Grammy in 1991 for Best Male R&B vocalist, of which category he was to win three more later on, winning eight Grammys in total.

Vandross’ father had died of diabetes and the condition was inherent in Vandross’ family. Vandross also suffered from hypertension. In 2004, the artist suffered a stroke. He very briefly appeared in public after that, at the Grammys to accept his Song Of The Year award and on the Oprah Winfrey Show. In 2005, Luther Vandross died of a heart attack at the age of 54. Vandross’ words at the last Grammys he attended were, ‘when I say goodbye, it’s never for long, because I believe in the power of love’. He was right; Vandross lives on through his music that was and still is very much loved.

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