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Luther Vandross was one of the defining singers and songwriters of R&B/soul during the '80s and '90s. Inspired by '60s and '70s icons such as The Supremes, Patti LaBelle and Dionne Warwick, Vandross got his start by writing “Everybody Rejoice” for the musical (later movie) The Wiz.
His big break took place when David Bowie overheard Vandross discussing vocal arrangements with guitarist Carlos Alomar. Vandross was invited by Bowie to sing and arrange background vocals on his Young Americans album. Shortly thereafter, Vandross found fairly steady work as a background and commercial jingle singer, earning the occasional featured vocal credit along the way.
In 1981, Vandross released his first solo album, Never Too Much, which quickly found admiration among R&B fans. His next five albums, Forever, For Always, For Love, Busy Body, The Night I Fell In Love, Give Me The Reason and Any Love were also extraordinarily popular. His music is known for being deeply romantic and sensual; it is often joked that if you were born in the 80's or early 90's, there's a chance you owe your conception to him.
Vandross, however, also sought crossover success. Later hits such as “Here and Now”, “Power of Love/Love Power”, “The Best Things In Life Are Free” (a duet with Janet Jackson) and “Endless Love” (a duet with Mariah Carey and cover of the Lionel Richie and Diana Ross song) proved very popular with both pop and R&B audiences. The coveted #1 pop spot eluded Vandross until 2003, when he released the title track from his album Dance With My Father, a tribute to his father who passed away when he was eight.
Unfortunately, his own health troubles had taken a serious toll on him. Vandross suffered a stroke shortly after completing Dance With My Father, leaving him unable to personally accept the four Grammy Awards he won that year.
Vandross died in July of 2005 at the age of 54, leaving behind heartbroken fans and a legacy as one of the greatest solo R&B artists of all time.