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Farewell to Luther Vandross

“When history books are written, I’d like it to be said that I am one of the premiere singers of our time.”
Luther Vandross

Luther Ronzoni Vandross, one of the finest R&B singers of the last thirty years and indeed one of the “premiere singers of our time,” with a voice of muscle and chiffon, died on Friday, July 1st, 2005 at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, NJ. He was 54 and never fully recovered from an April, 2003 stroke.

The embodiment of “quiet storm,” the highly-admired singer/songwriter/producer has sold in excess of 30 million records worldwide, winning eight Grammy Awards, numerous Soul Train, BET, NAACP Image and American Music Awards.

He ranked as one of the most successful R& B singers of the 1980′s and broke through to even wider commercial success in 1989 with the Best of Luther Vandross, The Best of Love, which included the new song “Here and Now,” his first Grammy winning hit which became a signature wedding song.

Born in New York City in 1951, Luther was the youngest of four children. In 1972, a song Vandross wrote, “Everybody Rejoice,” was included in the Broadway musical “The Wiz.” But his biggest early break came when he landed a job as a backup singer for David Bowie and created vocal arrangements for the the neo-soul classic Young Americans.

Vandross quickly became a sought-after backup vocalist and arranger, working with artists from Bette Midler to Barbra Streisand, and he helped pay the bills as one of the most popular jingle singers of the time. His 1981 debut, Never Too Much, reached the top of the R&B charts and sold more than one million copies.

Through the 1980′s, he recorded a string of platinum albums, including Forever, For Always, For Love, Busy Body and The Night I Fell in Love. His last album, Dance With My Father received four Grammy Awards (including Song of the Year for the title song “Dance With My Father”) and has generated worldwide sales exceeding 3 million copies.

Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said, “As one of the top vocalists in R&B and pop music, this … icon has had an indelible career writing, singing and producing hits — all made instantly memorable by his soothing and sensuous tenor. Luther’s life and songs demonstrated the power of love, and his music will live on forever, though we will miss a good friend and an immensely talented man.”

Luther was also a prolific writer and producer for others, including Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, and Dionne Warwick.

He leaves to cherish and celebrate his life, legacy, and wonderful memories a loving and devoted mother, Mary Ida Vandross, nine nieces as well as eight great nephews, three great nieces and a circle of close friends and colleagues, his musical family and millions of loyal, supportive fans.

Funeral services will be held at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, located at 1076 Madison Avenue (at 81st Street) on Wednesday and Thursday, July 6 and 7 with public viewings from 4:00pm – 9:00pm. The Memorial Service will be held Friday, July 8 at Riverside Church, located at 490 Riverside Drive, scheduled for 12:00pm.

About Eric Olsen

  • Doris

    I would like to see the viewing of the body as I cannot go to New York. I have been all over the network trying to find the viewing of the body, but have found no pictures as of yet. If you have any please post them or send to emaill.

  • Justice Richardson

    First I would like to thank Mrs.Vandross for giving us such a wonderful son to admire and listen to in song. I thank GOD for having a chance to hear such a person sing a lovesong without feeling dirty from listening to the song. Also I am grateful to have heard the best singer of all time sing the lovesongs the way no one could ever do. Mr. Vandross will truly be missed by me.
    I love listening to Luther so much that I drove on our family vacation from the state of Georgia to New York City listening to nothing but all songs song by Luther Vandross. I must say that was the best trip to New York I have ever drove. Thank you Luther for all the music you have made for all of us listen to. Peace Justice Richardson.

  • robert morehead

    i am a musician. i was a young musician when i first heard LUTHER. I must say i was jealous when i first heard the greatest soul rb jazz anything voice i have EVER heard because every women i was trying to talk to was about LUTHER. Then i could not figure it out. I saw the brotha on the appollo and thought he’s good. The impact. When i started listenin’ i was like damn this brotha feelin me. Not only was he feeling me but millions upon millions of people then mainly women but as time progressed the brothas started to listen. And take notice of that beautiful creature we call a sister! And then something startling happened-brotha’s became romatic-again! LUTHER-MY BROTHA u missed love ya – won’t b 4 gotten cryin now miss ya. NOT A sad face anywhere ya go you can sing THIS song about it! Dance with your father(s) boy’ let it be a wonderful! waltz

  • Roz Brown

    A New Song
    (Dedicated to Luther Van dross)

    A new song is waiting for you up above
    No one could sing such a song of great love.

    The melody was written the harmony too
    The Choir in heaven was waiting on you.

    Luther they said “must sing this new song
    Any one else would sing it all wrong”

    God in his wisdom knew from the start
    Luther vandross would sing from his heart.

    The chores of the song was practiced you know
    The song’s main part was Luther’s solo.

    The song from his heart was simple and sweet
    The choir joined in and made it complete.

    As he finished his song, he knew he’d arrived
    For Jesus himself was right by his side.

    I’ll never forget you family and friends
    But now I can dance with my father again.

    It’s Poetry by Roz
    Written for Luther Vandross
    July 5,2005
    Copy by 2005 by Writings by Roz.

  • ROBERT KETTER,JR

    LUTHER IS DEAD, BUT HIS MESSAGES SUNG IN SONGS STILL FEED THE SOULS OF MANY. LUTHER YOU NOW HAVE THE CHANCE TO DANCE WITH YOUR FATHER AGAIN…

  • http://TERRYMCMULLEN TERRY MCMULLEN

    I LOVE YOU LUTHER AND ALWAYS WILL I HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING YOU SINCE I WAS A LITTLE GIRL.I USE TO SIT CLOSE TO THE FRONT ROWS AT ALL YOUR CONCERTS YOU EVEN PICKED ME OUT ON MY BIRTHDAY AND SAID I WAS DRESSED BEAUTIFUL!!!THANK YOU ANDYOU ARE TERRIBLY MISSED LOVE ALWAYS TERRY

  • Susan

    Missing you again today Luther. I’ll never forget having the privilege to look into his eyes from 15 feet away as I screamed, “I love you Luther!” The audience had fallen quiet & my heart overflowed – he had just taken the stage 5 minutes before… I HAD to tell him what he’d always meant to me :) He looked right back into my eyes and blew me a kiss, saying, “Honey, I love you too.” I cried. I was overwhelmed – it was a moment in my life I sincerely thank God for with all my heart. What a privilege to connect with him for that moment in time. When I want to sooth my soul, I listen to my Luther :) When I got married, I walked down the aisle to “Here & Now.” My Pastor’s Wife didn’t get it – a cd? What song?? Instead of the Wedding March??” I said, just trust me. It was a candle lit ceremony in the evening, and Luther’s voice played so smooth & sweetly as I walked down the aisle after my bridesmaids. I promise to love faithfully :) Oh, Luther. I’m a wreck this day, crying & unable to breathe through my nose :) cuz I read the first 36 pages of your biography, where they said what you went through at the end…I am overwhelmed at thinking of what you went through, and wishing you would never have had to suffer for one moment. What a beautiful soul, an incredibly amazing gift your voice, your talent, your sweet soul that you so generously poured out for us as you sang. I thought at one point, a few days after you had passed, that maybe God wanted you to come up there & sing for Him :) and how fitting for you to be back with your Father, and in a place where such beauty could surround you – nothing on earth seems to be as amazing as your voice – only love, only family, only God. I miss you….