Luther Vandross - Nominee

1951 - 2005

At 13 Luther Vandross saw Dionne Warwick perform ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ and decided he wanted to be a singer. Throughout the 1970s he sang backup for major acts such as David Bowie, Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, and Bette Midler. During this period he also wrote and arranged for a variety of artists as well as wrote and sang several popular jingles such as The US Army’s ‘Be All That You Can Be’ campaign. Despite being in demand as a session singer, he took a chance and recorded his first solo album – ‘Never Too Much’ (1981) – which went on to double-platinum success. Each of his next five albums sold over a million copies. Vandross, renowned for his soulful romantic ballads, became a dominant male vocalist on the R&B charts. It was not until he recorded ‘Here and Now,’ a new single for his 1990 greatest hits album ‘The Best of Luther Vandross…The Best of Love’ that he fully achieved Top 10 crossover success and won his first Grammy. Vandross went on to sell more than 25 million albums, had 14 platinum albums, and won 8 Grammys. But his success came with a heavy personal price. As with many in the entertainment industry, his homosexuality was an open secret – something he neither confirmed nor denied – but he lived inside a world governed by the confidentiality agreements he required his staff to sign. Lonely and isolated by his fame, Vandross was never linked romantically to anyone – a tragic irony for the man whose incredibly beautiful voice no doubt launched many a romance for others. In 2003 Luther Vandross suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered. He died of a heart attack in 2005. He was 54.

Luther Vandross Headshot

Demography

Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity African American

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch Information Age (1970-present)

Field(s) of Contribution

Music

Commemorations & Honors

Grammy Award Winner Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for Here and Now (1991)

Grammy Award Winner Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for Power of Love/Love Power (1992)

Grammy Award Winner Best R&B Song with Marcus Miller and Teddy Vann for Power of Love/Love Power (1992)

Grammy Award Winner Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for Your Secret Love (1997)

Grammy Award Winner Song of the Year Shared with Richard Marx for Dance With My Father (2004)

Grammy Award Winner Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for Dance With My Father (2004)

Grammy Award Winner Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for The Closer I Get To You With Beyonce (2004)

Grammy Award Winner Best R&B Album for Dance With My Father (2004)

Posthumous Hollywood Walk of Fame Star For Recording (2014)

Authorship

Original Biography Author
Victor Salvo
Biography Edited By
Owen Keehnen
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell