In the world of contemporary music, there are just a handful of superstars whose first name alone brings instant recognition. Check Aretha, Whitney, Mariah, Diana and Dionne. But when it comes to male vocalists, the list is far shorter. One name towers above the rest in any discussion of black male singers whose impact and influence has been unparalleled. Say the name “Luther” and record buyers the world over respond immediately. The fact is, Luther Vandross was, and always will be, the pre-eminent black male vocalist of our time.
In the years since Luther’s passing, one constant has remained to define his life and musical success: the voice. Like any great singer of the past 100 years, Luther Vandross’ voice and distinct singing style led to not only monumental success, but an instant recognition when you hear him singing–through your stereo, car radio, on TV or in a movie. Bing. Frank. Billie. Robeson. Aretha. Diana. Dionne. Whitney. Mariah. Michael. Marvin. Luther. It is rarified company, but indelibly classic and everlasting in the annals of American music and a club in which Luther Vandross’ membership is permanent.
Coupled with that voice was Luther’s unique ability to write and sing about love and the shared emotions we all feel in that search for and enjoyment of love. Love of family, friends, that special someone–all were themes Luther explored with his music regularly, reaching many. Through his songs, for the last two generations Luther Vandross became a staple in the most joyous moments of people’s lives.