The Gospel Music of Luther Vandross

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Luther Vandross was a legendary figure in the world of gospel music. His soulful voice and moving lyrics touched the hearts of millions. This blog is dedicated to celebrating his life and music.

The Early Years

Luther Vandross was born on April 20, 1951, in New York City. Vandross began playing the piano at the age of three and singing in his church choir at the age of seven. He later attended the High School of Music & Art in New York, where he studied music theory and composition.

Vandross’ musical influences

Luther Vandross was born on April 20, 1951, in New York City. His father, an upholsterer by trade and a musician by avocation, often took young Luther to see Broadway shows. His mother was a nurse. Vandross’s siblings were all avid music lovers as well, and the family home frequently echoed with the sounds of doo-wop tunes and popular ballads. Vandross’s parents divorced when he was four years old, however, and he was sent to live with his maternal grandmother in Harvey, Illinois. It was there that Vandross first began to develop his musical skills, singing in the church choir and taking piano lessons. He later recalled that it was also during his years in Harvey that he first realized he wanted to be a professional singer.

His start in the music industry

Luther Vandross started singing in a church choir at the age of four and singing became his passion. He idolized Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, and he aspired to have a career in music. He started working as a session musician after high school and began writing songs for artists like Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, and Bette Midler. His big break came in 1981 when he was asked to sing the lead on the Chic single “I Really Didn’t Mean It.” The song became a hit and helped Vandross gain recognition as a solo artist.

The 1980s

Many people think of the 1980s as a time of big hair and shoulder pads. But the 1980s were also a time when Luther Vandross created some of the most popular gospel music of all time. Vandross, who was born in 1951, began his career singing background for such artists as David Bowie and Donna Summer. But it was his work as a solo artist that made him a household name.

Vandross’ breakthrough success

After years of working as a session musician and backing vocalist, Vandross finally achieved success as a solo artist with his fifth studio album, 1981’s Never Too Much. The album’s title track became his first top-ten single on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number six. The album also featured the ballad “A House Is Not a Home”, which Vandross would later call “the song that gave [him] my identity as an artist.” Never Too Much was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and yielded two more top-ten singles: “Stop to Love” and “Since I Lost My Baby”.

His work with Whitney Houston

In 1985, Vandross wrote and produced “Saving All My Love for You” for Whitney Houston’s self-titled album. It was her first number-one single as a solo artist, and Vandross won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song. Vandross also wrote and produced Houston’s follow-up single, “How Will I Know”, which also topped the charts.

The 1990s

Luther Vandross was an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. He was a prolific and popular recording artist during the 1980s and early 1990s. Vandross won eight Grammy Awards, including Best Male R&B Vocal Performance four times.

Vandross’ continued success

The biggest and best-selling album of Vandross’ career was his 1992 release, Power of Love. The title track was a duet with Whitney Houston, and the album also featured the hit singles “Never Too Much,” “Love the One You’re With,” and “Heartbeat.” Vandross won two Grammy Awards for the album, which went double platinum. He followed up Power of Love with the gold-selling album This Is Christmas in 1993, which featured duets with Mariah Carey and Stevie Wonder.

His work with Mariah Carey

Luther Vandross wrote and produced songs for Mariah Carey, including her 1995 hit “Forever.” He also duetted with her on the song “Endless Love,” which appeared on her album Daydream.

The Later Years

Luther Vandross was an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. He started his career as a backup singer for Dionne Warwick and later became a member of the 1970s soul group Change. In the 1980s, Vandross left the group to pursue a solo career. His first album, Never Too Much, was released in 1981 and peaked at number one on the Billboard R&B chart.

Vandross’ health problems

In 2003, Vandross suffered a stroke that left him hospitalized for several months. According to his biographer Craig Seymour, the stroke “robbed Luther of his ability to say words that began with S”. Vandross subsequently underwent intensive speech and physical therapy. After regaining his health, Vandross recorded two more albums – 2005’s ‘Dance with My Father’ and 2006’s ‘The Ultimate Luther Vandross’ – before his death on July 1, 2005, at the age of 54.

His final album

In 2004, Luther Vandross released his final album, “Dance with My Father.” The album was a huge success, debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 and earning five Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. Vandross passed away in 2005, but his music continues to live on.

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