Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Luther Vandross Moment

I just came across this moving tribute to Luther and had to respond:

by William Fredrick Cooper

It's been three days, and it still hasn't sunk in. God, I miss him. But he's home now, dancing with his father. Smiling from heaven, he's no longer suffering the effects of his stroke; in fact he's probably singing in front of Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra. I can't wait to hear that duet with Phyllis Hyman. (We lost them all on or around July 4th Weekend)

Do you remember where you were when you received the news that a friend to some and lover to all was gone? I was in a car, 5:30 Friday Afternoon, homeward bound, when the news came. Letting out a scream, I was hoping the Bad Boy would allow listeners to see how much our friend impacted his life. Didn't want to talk about death on a Friday, came the terse, idiotic response. Immediately, I turned the dial to a more compassionate deejay.

As the numbness thawed and the tears came, I thought of his legacy, and oh, that voice. Smooth as Velvet, powerful as a hurricane of love, he was quality personified. No one will ever replicate, or even come close to his vocal artistry. Now I know how people felt when moved to tears by a Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke song. Luther Vandross was for our generation what they were for my parents.

As I now listen to Dance With My Father, I am blessed to have seen him in concert seven times, the last as a surprise birthday present in 2002, a year before the music stopped. He was even better in concert, for he never cheated us. After making Love to us by way of song for two hours, we always wanted more. If He could have stayed for 10 hours, no one would have left the arenas. Can I get an Amen?

Ladies, LUTHER WAS MY MAN. Let Me Explain;When I couldn't tell you I LOVE YOU, I spent many a night under red lights in my bedroom making "pause button slow tapes." EVERY ONE culminated with a powerful Luther song. He always knew what I wanted to express to you.

He sure had a way of making love feel so good, didn't he? A house was not a home without him. Love Wouldn't Let Him Wait; he coveted the Here and Now. After telling us to Buy Her A Rose, he and Gregory Hines Gave Me A Reason: There's Nothing Better Than Love. From He Who Had Nothing he wanted us If Only For One Night. When caught Creepin', we had to forgive him, for He Really Didn't Mean It. Searchin' for the truth, he had the Glow Of Love as Anyone Who Has a Heart would.

Wanting The Night To Stay, I gotta Rush that told me to Never Let Go of my quest for Any Love. His music was Never Too Much to listen to. I can't believe this man lost at the Apollo seven times (!) and was known for doing KFC jingles.

The tears have dried again, for I am grateful that he left behind so much of him. All weekend long, his songs told the story of my life. Crying, dancing, singing, burning CD's for my mother, thinking of his live performances I captured - Sometimes alone, Sometimes Not - I realized my house is still a home, because his love for song and love itself will live inside me for the rest of my days.

I love you, Luther. Thanks for being you.
William Fredrick Cooper

I feel you on that. My daughter grew up knowing Luther. While I was doing the audition thing in NY, the poor child would hide my cassettes for a brief respite.

Every Sunday at church we have a moment in African history. Well, the minister in charge forgot her folder at home and made the mistake of saying, “Does anyone have anything to say about a person who's impacted their lives?”

I was like…LUTHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA (in my head of course, cause this was church)

I demurely stood up, and spoke on Luther.

I spoke about my hope that he would pull through, for I’d figured that with the support and prayers of so many, when he pulled through, the brother would be singing gospel or contemporary Christian. And since Luther singing secular was enough to quicken the deadest spirit…picture Luther singing gospel! Folks would be back flipping down the aisles.

(Of course, I didn’t add the part about the “Power of Love” concert my elder sister and I attended…wherein I realized exactly why folks acted so scandalously at concerts I’d seen on TV). One woooooo was enough to raise goosebumps. Two or three …thoughts of swooning, but then I might miss some of the concert! Claustro-what? I forgot I that I was claustrophobic and screamed myself hoarse. It was an experience I wouldn’t have missed for the world!)

So, Luther singing gospel wasn’t a part of God’s plan, but I am thankful for his contribution to the many moments of my life. When I wanted an example of how a riff should be sung…Luther, when I needed a lift in general…Luther, when I wanted to set the mood…Luther.

But, noticing the glazed expressions of folks closest to me, I wound up my ode to Luther and took my seat.

His legacy will be a hard act to follow.


P.S. At the BBQ after church, my heart swelled with joy, when my daughter suggested that next weekend, she would be coming home for a Luther fest!

Posted by Dee at 10:53:00 AM  


  1. reflectiveluva posted at Wednesday, July 06, 2005 4:20:59 PM  
    Dee i echo the sentiments and words of you and the fellow above. he touched me in so many different ways. And i can only hope and pray that with all the people that were praying for him to return to us bigger and better than before, that those same people prayed that he made his peace with god and gave his heart to god while he had the chance. i would love to see my father again and will some day, But Luther is one of the few,,very few whom i would love to just say *thank you for everything*. Love ya sis-Luva
  2. Anonymous posted at Thursday, July 07, 2005 1:06:24 AM  
    That was a wonderful tribute to Luther. Some try to deflect from his presence in music but his music speaks for itself. I was also honoured to have seen him in concert several times... The funny thing is the last time I saw him in concert was with my best friend as a surprise birthday present. The thought of Luther singing gospel... wow. Like reflective said, I pray that he knew Christ as his personal Savior and accepted him into his life...


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