WE REMEMBER LUTHER VANDROSS: April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005

    Grammy-winning R&B icon Luther Vandross, whose distinct tenor powered such classic ballads as “Here and Now” and “If This World Were Mine,” died Friday at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison, NJ  He was 54. 
   Here is the official press release regarding his death from his record label, J-Records:
     "At 1:47 PM at JFK Medical Center, Luther Vandross had a peaceful passing under the watchful eye of friends, family and the medical support team.  As you know, Luther Vandross suffered a stroke two years ago, which he never fully recovered from.  Throughout his illness, Luther received excellent medical care and attention from his medical team.  Luther was deeply touched by all the thoughts and wishes from his fans."
    The singer and songwriter had been ailing since suffering a stroke in April, 2003, that left him in a coma for nearly two months.  His last album, “Dance with My Father,” was released in June 2003 during the same week he emerged from his coma.
   Born Luther Ronzoni Vandross on April 20, 1951, in New York, Vandross began his career in the 1970s writing and singing jingles for television commercials. David Bowie discovered him in the mid-seventies and featured the budding talent on his “Young Americans” album. Vandross co-wrote Bowie’s hit single, "Fame," and served as the opening act for the rock star’s tour.
    Luther’s wide exposure led to back-up gigs for such artists as Roberta Flack, Bette Midler, Chaka Khan and Barbra Streisand. But after signing to Epic/CBS Records as a solo artist, his career took off to new heights.
    His 1981 single “Never Too Much,” went double platinum in the US and reached No. 19 on Billboard.  Subsequent albums – 1983’s “Forever, for Always, for Love” and 1986’s “Give Me The Reason” – spawned more hits for the R&B powerhouse, and cemented his signature smooth falsetto and trademark belly-rattling run.
   Vandross’ 1989 greatest hits album, “The Best of Luther Vandross … The Best Of Love,” gave him his first-ever Top Ten single, “Here And Now.” More hits would come in the 1990s, including 1991’s “Power of Love” and a 1994 remake of “Endless Love” with Mariah Carey.
  Vandross suffered a stroke on April 16, 2003, and lapsed into a coma.  The illness was believed to be tied to the singer’s diabetes and hypertension, which runs in his family, his mother Mary Vandross had publicly stated. His father Luther Sr. died of complications of diabetes when Luther was five years old.
  On June 10, 2003, Vandross released the album “Dance With My Father” in memory of his father. The title track won Luther and his co-writer Richard Marx the 2004 Grammy Award for Song of the Year.  On the day Vandross came out of his coma, “Dance With My Father” was the No. 1 album in the country.  The disc had become Luther’s career to reach the top position. 
     Vandross’ two sisters and a brother died before him. The crooner had never married or had any children, but lavished love on his nieces and nephews.
  A candlelight vigil For Luther Vandross was on July 2, 2005,      Saturday evening from 6 PM – until, Project Islamic Hope sponsored a candlelight vigil will held in Luther’s honor in Lemiert Park, 3415 West 43rd Place, in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw district.  Funeral services were held at Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel, located at 1076 Madison Avenue (at 81st Street) New York, New York on Wednesday and Thursday, July 6 and 7 with public viewings from 4:00pm – 9:00pm. The Memorial Service was held Friday, July 8 at Riverside Church, located at 490 Riverside Drive, New York, New York.  
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