Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Vandross: 70's session vocals

Luther Vandross session vocals

As you prolly already know, Luther Vandross died on Friday... he never really recovered from his massive stroke back in 2003. Most know him as a great R&B singer, with his impressive string of (R&B) chart-topping hits througout the 1980's. But what I find most interesting is the work he did before striking out on his own. He's sung with acts as diverse as David Bowie, Bette Midler, Chic, Barbara Streisand, Cat Stevens, Ringo Star, Judy Collins, David Sanborn and even the J. Geils Band.

I had heard he had significant role in David Bowie's Young Americans album and decided to go from there and look into his session vocals turns in the 1970's. Bowie recruited him and some other 'young americans' for his genre-bending recording, and Vandross did arrangments, sang, and even garnered songwriting credit on a track ("Fascination.")

Luther got his first big break arranging and singing back up on the great duet album Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway, in 1972. He later did the same on Roberta Flacks' self-titled album which also featured Hathaway.

Vandross became a high profile backup singer (well... as high as a backup singer gets, right Sheryl Crow?) and found himself a hot commodity. He was brought in repeatedly for Chic's recordings, singing on all their hits. Vandross was also a favorite of Bette Midler, who used his sensibilities both in the studio and in her stage movie Divine Madness. Speaking of movies he also was in the movie The Wiz singing the song "Everybody Rejoice." He wasn't in the movie Fame but he did play a part in the vocals on the title track from the movie, and later rejoined Irene Cara for her unfortunate solo album that followed.

The 1980's came and it was time for Vandross to assert himself more, producing and writing songs for Aretha Franklin and Teddy Pendergrass at the same time he was releasing his first couple solo albums. He continued to produce and appear as a backup on a variety of songs, but never as diverse or interesting as his session days in the mid to late 1970's.

He will truly be missed for all his contributions to the music world.

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1 comment:

drake leLane said...

Luther Vandross as Session Vocalist

* "Young Americans" - David Bowie
* "Le Freak" - Chic
* "Love Me Right" - Aretha Franklin
* "Flamethrower" - J. Geils Band
* "Muscles" - Diana Ross
* "Married Men" - Bette Midler
* "Papillon (aka Hot Butterfly)" - Chaka Khan
* "Nascimento" - Cat Stevens
* "Stuff Like That" - Quincy Jones
* "Love Won't Get In The Way" - Average White Band
* "Good Times" - Chic
* "Fascination" - David Bowie
* "Fame" - Original Cast Recording
* "Back Together Again" - Donny Hathaway
* "I Do" - J. Geils Band
* "You're My Choice Tonight (Choose Me)" - Teddy Pendergrass