Saturday, July 02, 2005

To Luther, With Love...

He inspired a generation to love.

He encouraged a breed of artists to sing from their soul.

He revealed a world through his music that believed in peace, joy and pure bliss.

And he touched people even more with his fight for survival. The fight to live.

Luther Vandross bid his farewell to this world in the flesh on July 1, 2005 for good. But not in spirit. His enduring struggle, after his serious bout of diabetes complications and the stroke he experience two years ago, has been silenced today.

"Luther Vandross had a peaceful passing under the watchful eye of friends, family and the medical support team," said Rob Cavanaugh, a spokesman at JFK Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey.

Vandross, born in a housing project in New York City, started out singing jingles and working as a backup singer for David Bowie, Bette Midler and Carly Simon. He was hanging out at the Philadelphia studio where Bowie was recording tracks for what would become his 1975 "Young Americans" album. The British rocker overheard Vandross improvising the line, "I heard the news today, oh boy" in the chorus of the title track, and pulled him into the vocal booth to join the backup singers.

At the urging of Roberta Flack, he took his savings and recorded the demos for what would be his first solo album, 1981's "Never Too Much." He signed with Epic Records -- only after insisting that he produce his material -- and the album became the first of a chain of million-sellers.

With its blend of swing and soul, "Never Too Much" put Vandross at the front of the "retronuevo" movement, deftly weaving modern studio production with classic vocal intimacy.

He became a fixture on the urban music charts, and wrote for artists like
Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and Dionne Warwick, but mainstream success eluded him until 1989, when he had his first Top 10 pop hit with "Here and Now," a track tacked onto a compilation album. That song has since become something of a classic wedding ballad.

His own life was less happy. He dealt with his loneliness by eating, and his weight fluctuated between 340 pounds (154 kg) and 190 pounds (86 kg) during his adult life.

"In other areas I'm strong," he told Rolling Stone.
"I've never been high in my life -- never tasted wine, never puffed pot. I'm unbrainwashable and don't give in to peer pressure, but food is different."

Unlike most of his peers, Luther failed many times in the eighties in trying to become a mainstream audience. Instead he remained committed to the R&B sound, while experiementing heavily with pop music's advances. Prince and Michael Jackson succeed with pop, but Luther remained faithful to R&B. To this day, many even believe Luther Vandross is the last of the best R&B crooners. But after "Here And Now", which received a Grammy, Luther's career leaped into a festive adventure full of opportunities. "Power Of Love/Love Power" followed, along with "The Best Things In Life Are Free" (a duet with Janet Jackson) and "Endless Love" (a duet with Mariah Carey). Luther's final album, "Dance With My Father", received several Grammy nods, while taking home one for Best R&B Song of the Year.

While the gospel world still mourns over the loss of Ron Winans, add Luther to this and next week's schedule of events. Luther impacted many people. His music and influence has touched artists such as the Winans, Darwin Hobbs, John Legend, Ruben Studdard and even Lalah Hathaway. He even co-wrote "Pray"; a song which appeared on Jeff Majors "Sacred 4 You" album.

Emotional images of Luther's mother, Ida, praying and hoping for her son to recover, along with Patti & Aretha's prayer vigils may come to mind throughout Luther's battle for life after his stroke. Truly, the world united in prayer to witness a miracle. To hear him talk and sing again. And he did that, amazingly, during the past GRAMMY Award telecast. He was alive to receive his Grammys and to hear his album going gold from J Records' CEO Clive Davis himself. I really believe Luther has witnessed the great things in life and enjoyed the blessings that God has graced him with. Now may he forever rest in the arms of the One whom created him.

In Kase You Didn't Know Already:
J Records CEO and former president of Arista Records Clive Davis has annouced that he will be releasing a tribute album to Luther featuring renditions of Luther's most treasured works from Mary J. Blige, Fantasi, Mariah Carey, Wyclef Jean and many others. Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam are set to produce. "Forever, For Always, For Luther", a tribute album released on the Verve jazz label, was released during Luther's rehabilitation in 2004 and featured remakes from Dave Koz, George Benson, Kirk Whalum, Lalah Hathaway and
Boney James.

Click here: [RealPlayer]


Anonymous said...


You never know when God will take you home. It is alway important to have you life together at all time. Luther was amasing. God gave him a wonderful gift and he use it to spread love all over the world. Luther will be greatly missed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this - it was a good article. And....I sure hope Mr. Darwin Hobbs is planning on putting Amazing Love on his next cd - if he has not already done son. You did Luther proud and I love that you're singing this to my Lord and Savior. Please keep up the good work. And I pray that I'll see Luther when I get Home.