Remembering Luther Vandross April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005
Luther Ronzoni Vandross (April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005) was an American singer-songwriter and record producer. During his career, Vandross sold over twenty-five million albums and won eight Grammy Awards including Best Male R&B Vocal Performance four times. He won four Grammy Awards in 2004 including the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for the track “Dance with My Father.”
Vandross began playing the piano at the age of three. He grew up in a musical family that moved to the Bronx when he was thirteen. Luther eventually attended Western Michigan University for a year before dropping out to continue pursuing a career in music.
Before his breakthrough, Luther sang backing vocals for Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, Gary Glitter, Carly Simon, Chaka Khan, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Donna Summer, Bette Midler, Chic, and Barbra Streisand.
And The rest as they say is HIStory. Unlike many artist of today, Luther never felt the need to address his sexuality or was never pressured to do because to his fans it was all about his music, his talents and his ability to make us feel something when when he sang; it was never about his personal life.
Eight months after his death, singer Luther Vandross’ friends discussed his sexuality in an interview with Out Magazine.
“He was way ‘in,’” recalls comic Bruce Vilanch. “He said to me, ‘No one knows I’m in the life.’ Â He had very few sexual contacts.”
“A famously open gay singer-songwriter [told me] Luther was dying to have a boyfriend,” columnist Michael Musto recalls in Out magazine.
While some Vandross’ fans were appalled by the expose, Michael Roberson, director of gay group People of Color in Crisis, argues, “Clearly, a lot of black gay performers feel they can’t come out. Yet it would be important, particularly to black, gay, young people, to see black gay role models.”