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Luther Vandross - Quiet Storm, Urban, Soul, Pop
Since his solo debut in 1981, Luther Vandross released nothing but platinum records that he not only sang on, but produced, wrote and arranged. This ultimate singer of songs had a groove that could not be copied – and he didn't copy. A few tried and disappeared, but Luther remained.
Over the years, the vocal master refined his craft, broadened his stylistic scope and reached every conceivable audience. Vandross' mainstream breakthrough happened with the pop Top 10 success of "Here and Now," which reached the pop Top 10 in 1989 and has lived on as a wedding song staple.
The momentum continued with more Top 10s. "Power Of Love/ Love Power," "Don't Wanna Be a Fool" (both 1991) and his 1994 duet with Mariah Carey, "Endless Love" (a #2 pop smash). Videos to "Stop to Love," "Any Love" and "Your Secret Love" remain essential contributions to the libraries of both VH1 and BET, while his songs and productions for Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Cheryl Lynn and others measure up against the work of any other pop titan.
On "I Know," his 14th solo album and first for Virgin Records, Luther Vandross upped the ante with broader strokes of jazz, funk and dance – sounds that always had been a part of his music – here Luther-ized, made his own. The balladry that helped all of his previous albums achieve platinum, double or multi-platinum status and generated many of his 22 Top Ten R&B singles is still confidently smooth, and yet intricate and involved. The title track, a gentle testimonial of a passion that defies the status quo, was one of the album's many luxuriant love songs and future pop hits.
His first breakthrough in show business came in 1972 when his composition "Everybody Rejoice (A Brand New Day)" was included in the hit Broadway musical The Wiz. Two years later, David Bowie asked Luther to arrange and sing backgrounds on his "Young Americans" LP (which also included the Vandross song "Fascination") and subsequent tour.
Through Bowie, Luther met Bette Midler. He sang on her "Songs For The New Depression" album and toured with "Miss M" as a backing vocalist. His reputation grew when he became one of the most popular session and jingle singers of the '70s.
His career hit an even higher plateau as he released his double-platinum solo debut in 1981, "Never Too Much."
Few performers toured as consistently or as successfully as Luther Vandross, who did not have to rely on package bills or prerecorded tracks to sell out arenas.
"I've had many R&B Number Ones," Vandross pointed out. (He had six singles and seven albums reach that pinnacle position, as well as four Top 10 pop singles), "But I've never had a pop Number One. In the past, there has been a lot of pressure placed on me to team up with the latest, hottest hit-maker and that's to be expected. But I want that Number One Pop record on my own achievement."
Most best-selling musicians experience a moment of great success when their initial style matches the public's taste, then struggle to adapt when the public moves on. Luther Vandross was an artist who expressed himself through song and sound, and although he didn't ignore the world around him, he remained true to himself.
Luther had his own perspective on his place in pop history. "I'd like to be remembered as a premier singer of songs," he offered, "not just a popular act of a given period."
Notable songs include --
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