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 on 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 remains the pre-eminent black male vocalist of our time. The five-time Grammy winner, whose cumulative global sales top over 20 million copies, has been offering his distinctive brand of satin smooth vocal magic to international audiences year in and year out. Described by J Records Chairman Clive Davis as "the best male R&B singer in the world" ?he抯 beginning his next phase with a shimmering J Records debut that marks a whole new chapter in a career filled with accomplishment, achievement and much-deserved recognition.
Now comes LUTHER VANDROSS, a dazzling album that has all the elements to take the genial superstar to an unprecedented level of mainstream pop and R&B success on a global level. Living up the high standard of artistic integrity which marks all of his previous work yet typifying the contemporary nature of the new record, "Take You Out" is the album's hit-bound first single.
Luther states, "It was one of the first three songs Clive (Davis) played for me when we sat down to discuss my signing with J Records. I totally fell in love with it the first time I heard it. I loved the sentiment of the song: it's a polite question, you could say the politically correct right way to approach someone you're attracted to? The album features some of the finest performances the New York-born singer, songwriter, producer and vocal arranger has ever committed to disc.
From the immediacy of "Take You Out," the irresistible first single (produced by Warryn Campbell) to the soulful ballad "Love Forgot," a future Vandross staple (co-written and produced by longtime associate Marcus Miller), the album is a brilliant "hybrid of classic Luther and contemporary Luther," the man himself declares. "No matter what new elements get brought into the process, the value of romance, beauty, song and emotion will always, always, always be my priority," he notes, referring to the incredible line-up of producers who worked on his auspicious first album for J Records.
Luther's emergence as a musical master whose style has influenced an entire generation of today's vocalists has been cultivated over many years of consistent hit-making. Already a successful jingle singer and background vocalist prior to the release of his groundbreaking debut "Never Too Much," Luther's mainstream breakthrough with the pop Top 10 success of "Here and Now," which reached the pop Top 10 in 1989 and has lived on as a wedding song staple. Prior to that, Luther had amassed an amazing 22 R&B charted singles including such classics as "Give Me The Reason," "Stop To Love" and "There's Nothing Better Than Love," (with Gregory Hines).
The momentum continued with more Top 10 hits including "The Power Of Love/ Love Power," "Don't Wanna Be a Fool" (both 1991) and his 1994 duet with Mariah Carey, "Endless Love" (a #2 pop smash). Videos to "Stop to Love," "Any Love" and "Your Secret Love" remain essential contributions to the libraries of both VH1 and BET, while his songs and productions for Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Cheryl Lynn and others measure up against the work of any other pop icon.
To date, Luther has won five Grammy Awards for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance with his #1 R&B / Top Ten Single, "Here and Now," 2 for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Male Vocal Performance with "Power Of Love / Love Power," and Best R&B Male Vocal Performance for "Your Secret Love." In 2000, Luther was honored with a special BET Walk Of Fame tribute and as brilliant performer who is known for his compelling live shows, Luther has consistently toured and enjoyed sold-out shows year in and year out. And, a first for any black male vocalist, Luther's impressive catalog of thirteen albums have all achieved either platinum or multi-platinum status.
Whether he's adding another dimension to a hit song of yesteryear or creating a new set of Vandross classics, Luther's first J Records CD is deeply satisfying: "I'd say that this record totally perpetuates the spirit of all that I've ever recorded," he says. "There's a balance between ballads and uptempo tracks which is always important and on this new album I think we accomplished that." There's no doubt that LUTHER VANDROSS showcases the inimitable talents of a legendary artist in a fresh and exciting way, a demonstration that with new career heights to attain, Luther is at the top of his game and soulfully, honestly, better than ever.