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Luther Vandross will forever be remembered for the great talent that he was

By Nina Steele 

Luther Vandross (1951 – 2005), who was childless, remains one of my all-time favourite artists. His cover of “Endless Love” with Mariah Carey, has to be one of the best versions of this song ever sung. His untimely death, aged just 54, on July 1, 2005, was a shock to say the least. But of course great talents never really leave us and like many others whose deaths we still mourn, he will for ever be in our hearts.

By the time of his death, Luther Vandross had sold more than 40 million records and was the recipient of 8 Grammy Awards, 4 of which were won in 2004 alone. Like many artists of his generation, his fame was earned the hard way. He slowly worked his way up to the top by first lending his beautiful voice as a backing singer for the likes of Diana Ross, David Bowie and Barbra Streisand, to name but these few.

Although he started in the music business in 1969, his breakthrough as a solo artist came in 1981 with the success of his song “Never Too Much”, which not only reached number one on the R&B charts but also won him a nomination at the 1982 Grammys for ‘Best R&B Vocal Performance’. From then on, he never stopped being successful and in demand.

During his time as a solo artist, he is said to have “dominated the American R&B music charts like no other artist before or since”, and “in that span, he released eight #1 R&B albums, seven #1 R&B singles and another five Top 20 R&B singles”. He is also said to have “achieved crossover status with eight Billboard Top 10 albums, including reaching #1 with 2003’s Dance With My Father”. That he received a total of 31 Grammy Award nominations says it all really. He was a highly talented artist who lived for his music.

The youngest of 4 children, Luther was sadly until his death, his mother’s only living child. Like all his siblings, he suffered from diabetes for much of his life. He died “following complications from a stroke he suffered in 2003”. He was survived by his mother Mary Ida, who passed away in 2008. In a 2006 interview she gave people magazine, his mother said this about her son’s legacy: “He touched so many people. Remember one thing, most of all: that his songs were trying to tell people to bring love back into their lives. Audiences loved him. And he loved them too”.

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