Luther Vandross was an R&B star, who enjoyed a very successful career the seventies, eighties and nineties. With several chart-topping singles, millions of album sales and countless sold-out shows, Vandross was undoubtedly one of the most popular musicians in the world.
Over the course of his 35-year career, he released a plethora of hits, including ‘For you to love’, ‘I can make it better, ‘Power of love’, and ‘Never too much’ – these are songs which Tunde Folawiyo and all other R&B fanatics, will have heard of. Vandross was also famed for his incredible covers of other artists’ work, such as ‘Always and forever’, ‘Superstar’ and ‘If this world were mine’.
Born in New York in 1951, Vandross attended William Howard Taft High School; whilst there, he created a singing group called Shades of Jade. He continued to compose and perform over the next few years, and got his first taste of the music industry at the age of 22, after Delores Hall agreed to use two of his songs – ‘Who’s Gonna Make it Easier for Me’ and ‘In this Love’ on her album, entitled ‘Hall-Mark’.
Vandross spent the rest of the seventies working mainly as a backing vocalist for people like Ben E. King, Judy Collins, Carly Simon, Donna Summer, Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler and David Bowie. Although he clearly had a great deal of talent, Vandross did not get his ‘big break’ as a solo artist until 1981, when a CBS subsidiary called Epic Records decided to sign him. After four months with this label, Vandross released his first album, which he named ‘Never too much’.
The public adored Vandross’ unique sound, and the album was a huge success. His popularity continued to grow, and by 1989, he had become the first ever male musician to sell out 10 shows in a row at Wembley Arena in London. Over the next 25 years, 13 of his 14 records went platinum. Although he had an enormous fan base within the USA, his popularity was not confined to his homeland; since 1981, there have been 40 million sales of his albums worldwide. He won many awards for his music; as an R&B fan, Tunde Folawiyo may recall that Vandross’ honours included four Best Male R&B Vocal Performance titles, and eight Grammys. He passed away in 2005, after suffering from a heart attack.