Luther vandross biography

Luther Vandross Head Shot In Formal Wear
Luther Vandross Sings

Song Lyrics


April 20, 1951

Luther Ronzoni Vandross, Jr. is born to Luther Sr., an upholsterer, and Mary Ida, a nurse, in New York City. When Luther is eight years old, his father dies suddenly.



Luther decides to become a singer after hearing Dionne Warwick sing the Bacharach-David songbook at Brooklyn’s Fox Theatre.



At William Howard Taft High School, Luther meets singers Robin Clark and Diane Sumler.


Luther forms Shades of Jade during a summer program for gifted high school students at Fordham University called Upward Bound. Carlos Alomar plays guitar for the Shades during that earliest incarnation.

Luther first meets Fonzi Thornton at his sister Ann’s house in East Harlem, New York.

Luther makes four appearances at the Apollo Theater’s brutal Amateur Night competition, but never wins.

The Shades of Jade that appeared on Apollo Amateur Night consisted of Luther Vandross, Fonzi Thornton, Bruce Wallace, Gayle Matthews and Brenda West. The group earns second place twice and is never booed off the stage.



Luther joins the Listen My Brother Revue, and later recruits Robin Clark, Diane Sumler, Fonzi Thornton, Bruce Wallace and Carlos Alomar to join the group. Listen My Brother appears onSesame Street in the first two years of the show.



Luther contributes vocals and writes a song for Delores Hall’s RCA debut (credited as Luther Van Dross). He also composes “Everybody Rejoice” for “The Wiz.”



Carlos Alomar invites Luther and Robin Clark to the sessions for David Bowie’s Young Americans album. Bowie hires Luther on the spot and then reworks Luther’s “Funky Music (Is A Part Of Me)” as his own “Fascination.” Luther goes on tour with Bowie.



On Bowie’s recommendation, Bette Midler hires Luther to sing on her new record and he makes an immediate impression on producer Arif Mardin. Luther records with Ben E. King, Chaka Khan, Carly Simon, Roberta Flack and the Average White Band.



Luther forms the group Luther, and releases a self-titled album on Atlantic’s Cotillion label.



The group Luther releases a second album, This Close To You, and is then dropped by Cotillion. Luther sings on the demo for Chic’s “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah).” He later sings on Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” and “Lost In Music.”



Luther sings on Quincy Jones’ Sounds… And Stuff Like That!! with Patti Austin and Gwen Guthrie.



Luther leads the chorus on “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” by Donna Summer and Barbra Streisand, then sings backup for Cher, Evelyn “Champagne” King and several studio groups.



Luther finds success on Urban Contemporary radio with his vocals on “Searching” and “The Glow Of Love” for the studio band Change. While on tour with Roberta Flack, she implores Luther to follow his joy. He produces several songs and shops them to major labels.



Epic Records signs Luther Vandross and releases the self-produced Never Too Much. Now the toast of the town, he’s profiled in New York Magazine and performs his first solo set at New York’s super-sophisticated Savoy Theater, opening for Chaka Khan.


1982Luther releases his second album, Forever, For Always, For Love, a million-seller. Headlining New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Luther performs two sold-out shows.



Luther produces Aretha’s Jump To It album and the title track to Dionne Warwick’s How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye. He also duets with Cheryl Lynn on a cover of “If This World Were Mine.” Luther releases his third album, Busy Body, which goes Platinum.



Luther releases his fourth album, The Night I Fell In Love, which sells more than 2 million copies. He contributes vocals to Stevie Wonder’s No. 1 hit “Part Time Lover” and joins Patti LaBelle on her first NBC television special, The Patti LaBelle Show.



Luther’s fifth album, Give Me The Reason, begins its march to double platinum.



Luther writes and produces “It’s Hard For Me To Say” for Diana Ross.



Luther performs 65 dates during a three-month tour, grossing $12.8 million and becoming one of music’s top live attractions. He co-hosts the first annual Soul Train Awards show. His sixth album, Any Love, reaches No. 9 in the national Top Ten.



The Best of Luther Vandross… The Best of Love charts for 51 consecutive weeks in Billboard and sells over 3 million copies. “Here And Now,” written by Dionne Warwick’s son David Elliott, becomes Luther’s first Top 10 pop single.


Luther sells out 10 nights at London’s Wembley Arena.



“Here And Now” wins Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards — his first Grammy win after nine nominations.


Luther produces the song “Who Do You Love” for Whitney Houston’s third album, I’m Your Baby Tonight.



Luther is profiled in The New York Times Magazine as his new album Power of Love sells more than a million copies, becoming his eighth consecutive Platinum album.


In Los Angeles, June 1st is declared “Luther Vandross Day.”



Luther’s “Power of Love/Love Power” wins Best R&B Song, and the album Power of Lovewins Best Male R&B Vocal Performanace at the Grammy Awards.



Luther records “The Lady Is A Tramp” for Frank Sinatra’s Duets album.



Luther records the album Songs, including the No. 2 pop single “Endless Love,” a duet with Mariah Carey. The album sells 2 million copies.



Luther releases the holiday album This Is Christmas.



“Your Secret Love,” the title track from Luther’s twelfth consecutive platinum album, wins Best Male R&B Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards.


Luther sells out Madison Square Garden and releases his second hits retrospective, One Night With You: The Best of Love, Vol. 2.



Luther releases I Know, his only album for the Virgin music label.



Luther is honored on BET’s Walk of Fame.



Luther signs with J Records and releases the Platinum album Luther Vandross.



In February, Luther records a series of sold-out shows at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. In April he performs “One Shining Moment” at the NCAA tournament finals in New Orleans.


On April 16, Luther suffers a massive stroke related to his lifelong struggle with obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

“Dance With My Father” debuts at No.1 in Billboard.

Musicians everywhere celebrate Luther’s legacy. J Records releases So Amazing: An All-Star Tribute To Luther Vandross. GRP and Rendezvous release two volumes of smooth jazz performances (Forever, For Always, For Luther) while Twista scores a big hit with “Slow Jamz” by referencing Luther’s “A House Is Not A Home.”



Luther appears on screen at the Grammy Awards as his co-writer Richard Marx accepts the Song of the Year award for “Dance With My Father.” The album Dance With My Father is also named Best R&B Album, and the tracks “Dance With My Father” and “The Closer I Get To You,” his duet with Beyonce, win in R&B vocal categories.


Oprah Winfrey broadcasts an interview with Luther from his rehabilitation facility.


July 1, 2005

Luther Vandross dies at age 54 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, New Jersey. Days later, a funeral procession passes the Apollo Theater before the service at Manhattan’s Riverside Church. Mourners include Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Cissy and Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys and Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. Patti LaBelle reads from a poem by Luther’s mother: “God gave you love to sing to the world…”



  • 1991: Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “Here and Now”

  • 1992: Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “Power of Love”
    Best R&B Song “Power of Love/Love Power”

  • 1997: Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “Your Secret Love”

  • 2004: Song of the Year “Dance With My Father”
    Best R&B Album “Dance With My Father”
    Best R&B Vocal Performance by Duo or Group “The Closer I Get to You” (duet w/Beyonce)
    Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “Dance With My Father”


  • 1982: (2) Best New Artist, Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “Never Too Much”

  • 1983: (1) Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “Forever, For Always, For Love”

  • 1986: (1) Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “The Night I Fell In Love”

  • 1987: (2) Best R&B Song, Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “Give Me the Reason”

  • 1989: (2) Best R&B Song, Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “Any Love”

  • 1990: (1) Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “She Won’t Talk to Me”

  • 1992: (1) Best R&B Vocal Performance by Duo or Group “Doctor’s Orders” w/Aretha Franklin

  • 1993: (1) Best R&B Vocal Performance by Duo or Group “The Best Things in Life Are Free” w/Janet Jackson

  • 1994: (1) Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “How Deep Is Your Love”

  • 1995: (4) Best Pop Vocal Performance-Male “Love The One You’re With”
    Best Pop Collaboration w/Vocals “Endless Love” w/Mariah Carey
    Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “Always and Forever”
    Best R&B Album Songs

  • 1997: (2) Best R&B Song “Your Secret Love”
    Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “Your Secret Love”

  • 1998: (1) Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “When You Call On Me/Baby That’s When I Come Runnin’”

  • 1999: (2) Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “I Know”
    Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance “I Know”

  • 2003: (1) Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance “Any Day Now”

  • 2004: (1) Best R&B Song “Dance With My Father”

  • 2007: (1) Best R&B Vocal Performance-Male “Got You Home” (posthumous)


  • Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist, Winner (7): 1988, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 2002, 2003

  • Favorite Soul/R&B Album, Winner (2): 1992 Power of Love
    2003 Dance With My Father


  • 1986: (2) Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist
    Favorite Soul/R&B Album The Night I Fell In Love

  • 1988: (1) Favorite Soul/R&B Album Give Me The Reason


  • Outstanding Male Artist, Winner (3): 1999, 2002, 2004

  • Outstanding Album of the Year, Winner (1): 2004 Dance With My Father


  • 2008: #54 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time

  • 2010: Named one of NPR’s (National Public Radio) 50 Greatest Voices

  • 2014: Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame