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Singer Luther Vandross To Be Posthumously Honored On Hollywood Walk Of Fame

Luther Vandross
Luther Vandross

The late Luther Vandross will be honored posthumously with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next Tuesday, June 3, according to The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

The star will be unveiled at 1717 Vine Street overlooking the recording industry’s iconic building Capitol Records.

“Luther’s unparalleled voice and forever romantic tunes such as “Never Too Much,” “Power Of Love”, “Here And Now,” “House Is Not A Home,” “So Amazing” and “Dance With My Father” are known the world over,” stated Leron Gubler, President of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and emcee of the ceremonies. “We are honored to hold this dedication for a very special performer whose music will resonate for all time.”

Leron Gubler and guest speakers to be announced will be on hand to unveil the star for Vandross in the category of Recording at 1717 Vine Street.

Accepting the star on behalf of the family will be Luther’s niece Seveda Williams and longtime friend Alfonso “Fonzi” Thornton. The star ceremony will be streamed live exclusively on www.walkoffame.com.

Since the passing of Luther Vandross in 2005, one constant has remained to define his life and musical success: his unforgettable voice. Amongst the greatest singers of the past 100 years, Luther Vandross’ voice and distinct singing style led to not only monumental success, but to instant recognition when you hear him singing–through your stereo, car radio, on TV or in a movie.

Coupled with that voice, was Luther’s unique ability to write and sing about love and the shared emotions we all feel in that search for and the enjoyment of love. Love of family, friends, that special someone–all were themes Luther explored with his music regularly, reaching many. Through his songs, Luther Vandross became a staple in the most joyous moments of people’s lives.

Luther Vandross was born on April 20, 1951 at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, New York City, United States. He was the fourth child and second son to Mary Ida Vandross and Luther Vandross, Sr.

Luther spent his early years living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City in the NYCHAAlfred E. Smith Houses. His mother saw to it that he begin piano lessons when he was only three years old. Luther once stated, “Her influence was incredible, my brother would get a bicycle for Christmas and I would get an Aretha Franklin album!” Luther was also influenced by his sister Pat, who sang in vocal groups in her teens.

Inspired by hearing Dionne Warwick for the first time at the Brooklyn Fox Theater, Luther began writing original songs and started his own vocal group during high school, appearing in local talent shows. After placing 2nd at the famed Amateur Night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater in New York City, Luther joined the theater’s Listen My Brother Revue which opened for Sly and The Family Stone and later appeared on the first two seasons of “Sesame Street” singing ‘Learn Something”, “Count to 20” and “Those Are The ABC’s.”

Honing his signature vocal style and writing skills, Luther went on to attend Western Michigan University before continuing to pursue a career in music. Already a formidable vocalist and skilled vocal arranger, Luther landed work as a backing singer at top recording sessions.

Luther quickly became one of the best kept secrets in popular music. Few people outside the industry knew his name, but millions heard his remarkable sensual voice on countless commercials. From time to time he made efforts to break out of that lucrative, but restrictive area, either through albums by his own group Luther, or performing on albums from Quincy Jones, Brecker Bros and Bionic Boogie. Many of these were promising recordings, but failed to generate enough momentum to propel Luther to the next level.

A milestone in his career came in 1974, when childhood friend, guitarist Carlos Alomar, invited Luther to Philadelphia to watch a David Bowie session Carlos was playing on. Bowie overheard Luther singing a soulful line he created while listening to the playback of “Young Americans” and asked him to go on mic and record it. Luther’s creation became the famed chorus of Bowie’s hit “Young Americans.” Liking what he heard, Bowie brought Luther into the fold to do vocal arrangements and take charge of his touring vocalists. And for a time, Luther (the group) was Bowie’s opening act. After hearing a Luther original called “Funky Music,” Bowie asked him to rewrite it as “Fascination” and recorded the song on his Young Americans album. Later Bowie introduced Luther to Bette Midler who was equally impressed, leading to Luther doing arrangements for Midler and touring with her as a backing vocalist.

From 1972 through 1980, Luther chalked up credits on albums by such greats as Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, Gary Glitter, Carly Simon, Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Donna Summer, Bette Midler, Chic, and Barbra Streisand. After appearing on two hit records in 1980 by the pop-dance act Change, Epic Records signed Luther Vandross.  In 1981, Luther’sdebut solo album “Never Too Much” was released, and it was quickly apparent that his voice was going to be a lasting presence for generations to come.

For 25 years, from 1981 to 2005, Luther dominated the American R&B music charts like no other artist before or since. In that span, Luther released eight No. 1 R&B albums, seven No. 1 R&B singles and another five Top 20 R&B singles. He achieved crossover status with eight Billboard Top 10 albums, including reaching No. 1 with 2003’s “Dance With My Father,” and another five Top 10 Billboard Hot 100 singles.

From 1981 to 1996, Luther Vandross released an unprecedented 11 consecutive platinum/double platinum albums on CBS/Sony Music’s Epic Records label. At the time of his passing in 2005, 13 of Luther’s 14 studio albums had gone Platinum or multi-platinum.

Overall, Luther received 31 Grammy Award nominations, winning eight times. Additionally, Luther won eight American Music Awards, including Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist seven times.

Luther’s songs have appeared in a vast number of movies, and he contributed original songs for sixteen films, including “Bustin’ Loose,” “The Goonies,” “Ruthless People,” “Made In Heaven,” “House Party,” “Hero,” “Money Train,” “Dr. Dolittle 2” and “Barbershop 2.” Luther’s version of “One Shining Moment” continues to be used every spring as the celebration song for the winning university in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Luther Vandross died on July 1, 2005 in Edison, New Jersey at the age of 54, following complications from a stroke two years earlier. He had been in entertainment for 35 years. His funeral in New York City one week later featured musical tributes by Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Cissy Houston, Usher, and Alicia Keys, along with special remembrances by Patti Labelle, Dionne Warwick and Fonzi Thornton.

Throughout his distinguished career, Luther Vandross was active in charitable causes with the United Negro College Fund and the NY Chapter of the American Diabetes Association, in addition to performing at numerous charity concerts, most notably Michael Jackson’s “Heal The World” concerts in the 1990s.

In 2008, Luther was ranked number 54 on “Rolling Stone” magazine’s List of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. In 2010, Luther was named one of NPR’s 50 Great Voices.

Luther Vandross was a musical master whose style has influenced an entire generation of today’s vocalists. His distinctive brand of satin smooth vocal magic moved international audiences and continues to touch people to this day. Luther Vandross was undeniably one of the most significant vocalists and performers of our time.

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