Luther Vandross was born Luther Ronzoni Vandross on April 20, 1951, in New York. While growing up on Manhattan’s Lower Eastside, his mother encouraged him to play music. The first incarnation of his career was singing jingles and background vocals. He also wrote the song Everybody Rejoice for the Broadway musical, The Wiz, in 1972. The album Never Too Much launched his career in 1981, giving him the beginning of a long career as an American soul and pop singer. In 1990, he won his first Grammy. The following year he won a Grammy for both the song Power of Love/Love Power and the album of the same name. As his career evolved, he became part of a crossover genre known as contemporary urban music. Besides singing, he was also a producer on albums for Dionne Warwick and Aretha Franklin. The Supremes were one of his first musical influences. Before the release of Dance With My Father, Vandross had a stroke and passed away. Posthumously, the album won four Grammy’s. These are ten of the best songs by Luther Vandross.
10. Stop To Love
According to allmusic.com, Vandross felt this song was one of the fastest he’d written. While in Montseerant, he recorded the song at George Martin’s Studios. There is a gender-bending element in this song since it is the woman in the music who works all the time and doesn’t think falling in love is a priority. One standout on this song is it was the first time Vandross used MIDI-based music technology.
9. Power of Love/Love Power
Although this song sounds more like something sung by a gospel choir, the lyrics are solid pop, recorded at London’s Royal Albert Hall. It was a standout during a time when R&B and Hip Hop were edgier. However, Vandross’s voice lent itself to this song, creating another critically acclaimed hit.
8. Any Love
Vandross wrote this song to encourage people through tough times and reminding them not to focus on the things they don’t have and how wrong everything is going. He collaborated with Marcus Miller again, who added most of the critical changes. The song stayed at number one on the R&B charts for two weeks.
7. Never Too Much
According to storyofasong.com, the lyrics tell a story about someone who wants to move on from a broken heart. Despite wanting to move on, they are still stuck in the past, knowing that whatever happens, not having the person is too much for them to bear. Vandross wrote and produced this song. The song was from his 1981 album of the same name and peaked at 33 on the Billboard 100
6. Don’t Want to Be a Fool
A fan told him how this song inspired her to leave her abusive marriage. It was the second single on the 1991 Power of Love album and peaked at number 4.
5. Dance With My Father
According to wtlfcm.com, Luther Vandross co-wrote this song with Richard Marx after his stroke. It’s a tribute to his late father. It also appeared on several tribute albums after the singer passed away. Celine Dion sang the song “So Amazing” because she understood the pain of losing her father. Richard Marx was the person who received Vandross’s Grammy after the singer’s passing. He mentioned how overcome with emotion he was realizing the talent the world lost when Vandross died.
4. Endless Love (with Mariah Carey)
In 1994, Vandross and Carey teamed up to sing a duet that Lionel Richie and Diana Ross recorded initially. Singing the song with Vandross was Mariah Carey’s idea after discovering that Vandross had an album of cover songs in the works. In the United States, the song peaked at number 2 on Billboards Hot 100.
3. Give Me The Reason
This song was featured on the Soundtrack for Ruthless People. It was also the title track of Vandross’s fifth studio album. The same year this album was released, Vandross won an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist. This song was nominated for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Vocal Performance.
2. If This World Were Mine
The original duo on this song was Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell on the album United. Luther Vandross recorded this song with Cheryl Lynn. It was featured in the 1999 movie The Wood.
1. Here and Now
Vandross and Dionne Warwick were playing Pac-Man when this song fell into his lap. Warwick’s son came in and asked Vandross to listen to his demo tape; the second song was this smash hit. He recorded the song at New York’s Hit Factory under Nat Adderly Jr’s direction, one of two original songs on his two-disc greatest hits album. Over time it has become a classic song at weddings.
Luther Vandross was everything a singer-songwriter should aspire to be. He had an incredible talent for writing lyrics, a voice that was smooth and lilting. Most importantly, he had the rare gift, the ability to write about love honestly. His death ended a thirty-five years long career in the music and entertainment industry. From 1981 to 2005, he consistently topped R & R&B charts, something another artist has not achieved. He released eleven consecutive platinum albums. At the time of his death, thirteen of fourteen studio albums had either gone platinum or double platinum. Not only was he a successful musician he was also extensively involved in charity work. He worked with the United Negro College Fund and the NY Chapter of the American Diabetes Association. Additionally, he performed in numerous charity concerts. Everything about his work will continue to influence musicians who come after him. His songs are his legacy and will keep him alive each time someone listens to his songs.