Luther Vandross was an American singer, songwriter, and music producer who was involved with the industry for about 35 years. He was born on April 20th, 1951 in Manhattan, New York City.
His parents were Mary Ida Vandross and Luther Vandross Sr. His mother was a nurse, while his father was an upholsterer and singer. Being surrounded by music early in life, it is said that Luther taught himself how to play piano by ear at the age of three.
His first public appearance as a singer didn’t come until 1969 when he performed on the first season of Sesame Street.
His music genre ranges from pop, soul, R&B, and disco. He is considered one of the most talented R&B musicians, even to this day. “Here And Now”, “Don’t Want To Be A Fool”, and “Power Of Love/Love Power” are just a few of his songs that held their place on the Billboard Top 50 for longer than 20 consecutive weeks.
Another popular song, “Dance With My Father”, was written in tribute to his father’s death when Luther was only eight years old.
Luther has won a countless amount of music awards– from Grammys to Soul Train Awards. His awards range from “Best R&B Song”, “Best R&B Album”, “Song of the Year”, “Best R&B Performance”, and even the NAACP award for “Outstanding Song”.
He won a total of 8 Grammys during his music career, as well as 8 American Music Awards. If there was an award for it, Luther made sure to win it. Not to mention, the number of nominations he received throughout his career as well– 31 Grammy nominations to be exact.
He was a force to be reckoned with during his years in music. He also became a regular music performer for shows such as Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, Rosie O’Donnell, The Arsenio Hall Show, Solid Gold, and Soul Train.
Popular in Washington D.C. as well, Luther was asked to be a regular performer at Inauguration events, Gala’s, and Christmas parties. Not only was he respected in the music industry, but he was also extremely well-liked by political figures as well.
Was Luther Vandross Gay?
While Luther Vandross was at the peak of his music career, there was constant speculation about his sexuality. He was never seen romantically involved with women and his music was very emotionally charged– this combination led the masses to believe he was not completely straight.
Luther Vandross was gay, although he never ‘came out’ while he was alive. It has been mentioned by his close friends, Patti LaBelle specifically, that he felt as though his sexual preference would ruin his career if it ever came to light.
Unfortunately, he is not wrong. Being gay and popular in the media was considered a rarity in those days. Tons of artists and celebrities had to hide their true sexuality from the world, in fear of being blacklisted by their industry and society. Not to mention, being black and gay during that time period was a recipe for hate and disaster.
Luther had thousands– if not millions, of female fans. Women would swoon over the smoothness of his vocal tone and melt at the romance he would write in his songs. If Luther would have come out as gay, he could have lost all of his female fans because in their eyes he was no longer “attainable”.
If Luther was alive and a popular artist in today’s world, he would have still thrived in his music career because of the open-mindedness and lack of ignorance in our society now. For Luther’s sake, I genuinely hope he did not live in closeted misery in fear of being canceled. But with the idea of him being gay in mind, it certainly adds a new emotional depth and longing to his love songs.
Luther Vandross died on July 1, 2005– two years after suffering from a stroke. He was never able to heal fully and dealt with heart problems up until his death.
Luther was also never married, nor had any children. According to his friend Bruce Vilanch, Luther’s longest relationship was with a man during the late 1980s and early 90s.
Luther Vandross deserved love just like any other human being and we can only hope he experienced that in his lifetime. His impact on the industry will live forever, as anyone who listens to his artistry will feel the love he expressed in his music.