This Day In History: April 20th
Luther Vandross is an award-winning singer with chart-topping hits such as “Never Too Much,” “Here And Now” and “Dance With My Father.” Vandross enjoyed a career that spanned more than three decades and it allowed him to amass a variety of awards that include being honored on BET’s Walk of Fame and multiple Grammy wins.
He was born Luther Ronzoni Vandross Jr. on April 20, 1951, in New York City. By his teenage years, Vandross made the decision to pursue a career in singing after hearing Dionne Warwick perform at Brooklyn’s Fox Theatre. While in high school Vandross began organizing music groups, and his group even made appearances at the Apollo Theater’s infamous Amateur Night competitions. Although he never won first place during the competition, Vandross and his group were able to earn second place twice and avoided being booed off the stage.
Vandross managed to find work on a smaller scale by contributing vocals and writing songs for the likes of Delores Hall and David Bowie. In 1976, he formed the group Luther and released a self-titled album. Two years later he composed “Everybody Rejoice” for the 1978 film, “The Wiz.” He released his first solo studio album, Never Too Much, in 1981 and it sold more than one million copies. By the end of the 1980s, he was earning more than $10 million and rising in popularity to become one of the industry’s top live performers.
Vandross also ventured into production and found success. His production credits include Aretha Franklin’s Jump To It (1982) album as well as Dionne Warwick’s How Many Times Can We Say Goodbye (1983). However, following the release of his first studio album, Vandross began releasing a string of multi-platinum albums of his own. In 1990, he won his first Grammy Award for the song “Here and Now.”
Dance With My Father debuted at No.1 on the Billboard charts in 2003. This turned out to be Vandross’s last studio album, and it even won Best R&B Album at the Grammys. Luther Vandross died on July 1, 2005, in Edison, New Jersey. His funeral was attended by many industry legends such as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick and Whitney Houston.